Organised labour has rejected recent order by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, to property owners and their agents to charge 6 percent Stamp Duty on all tenancy and lease agreements enter into with all leases and remit to the service.
Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, in a statement on Sunday, while aligning with Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, which had earlier vowed to mobilise against the new policy, contended that it would worsen the poverty in the country.
The labour bodies said: “This new financial burden on poor Nigerians comes at a time when the socio-economic pressure arising from COVID-19 dislocations is pushing many Nigerians beyond the limits.”
TUC, in the statement by its President and Secretary-General, Quadri Olaleye, and Musa-Lawal, respectively, said the move was as another ploy to further impoverish Nigerians.
According to TUC, “sometimes we wonder if there is any milk of kindness left in our leadership. Should enforcement of stamp duty on house rent and Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) be on priority list of the FIRS at a time the country is experiencing housing deficit and millions of Nigerians have lost their jobs?
“Till date, there are countries that are still giving out palliatives to cushion the effect of the coronavirus pandemic. Some countries, apart from giving out palliatives, also took responsibility for the utility bills such as power, water, data, etc.
“We read that Ghanaians will not be paying for power throughout this year. Why is our case always different? Why increase our burden now?
“There are many bills Nigerians pay without enjoying commensurate services. Already, tenants pay rent, agreement, caution, maintenance, LAWMA, Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, security, among others; if they again add six per cent charge on rent it makes.
“We are calling on the Federal Government to immediately order the FIRS to stay action if it does not want to incur the wrath of workers and Nigerians.
“The government should make use of the recovered loot and also widen the tax net to include a large number of the rich if the country really desperately needs money.
NLC, in an earlier statement by its President, Ayuba Wabba, had lamented that “this new financial burden on poor Nigerians comes at a time when the socio-economic pressure arising from COVID-19 dislocations is pushing many Nigerians beyond the limits.
“It is also alarming that we are having a rash of hike in taxes and user access fees when other countries are offering palliatives to their citizens.
“We call on the Federal Government and the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, to rescind this harsh fiscal measure as it is boldly insensitive to the material condition of Nigerians, which has been compounded by the Covid-19 health insurgency.
“Nobody would want to be a tenant if they had an alternative. This means that tenants, which this new policy targets, are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. It would be illogical, insensitive and inhumane to churn out laws that make our poor go to bed at night with tears in their eyes.”