This year has been very disastrous for the Nigerian economy. The Coronavirus pandemic and the global oil war dealt a major blow to our earning capacity. Our revenue plummeted. The federal government and our governors began to scamper for how they could borrow money to cover the shortfall.
However, the Kogi state government has been in the news for taking an unorthodox approach to covering the revenue shortfall in the state. The way the Yahaya Bello-led government of the state wants to generate more revenue for the state is to allegedly initiate a “bread tax”. This has been denied by the state government, I should say.
However, TheCable, an online newspaper medium claims to have come across an official document from the Kogi state government to bread bakers in the state to the effect of a bread tax. This is despite the denial of Yahaya Bello. According to the letter, the intent of the bread tax was to increase the internally generated revenue of the state.
“We write to introduce the above mentioned as the consultant appointed by the Kogi State Ministry of Commerce and Industry to collect the above mentioned levy from all master bakers and caterers doing business in and across Kogi State,” the medium quotes the letter to have read.
“You are, therefore, required to avail them all necessary cooperation to enable them carry out their assignment. The above-mentioned levy is to be paid per loaf of bread or other confectionery products produced per day.
“Please do comply with this policy to improve the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state for the provision of better services and good governance.
“The collection of this levy shall take effect seven (7) days from the date of receipt of this letter. You are expected to communicate this information to all your members.”
This attempt to tax bread is not just ridiculous; it is grossly insensitive. Of all the things the government could do, why tax bread? Bread is a staple food in Nigeria. The poor and the rich eat it. If the governor then decides to tax bread in Kogi state, that would automatically affect the poor invariably.
Let’s face it. Kogi state is not a very rich state. This bread tax is essentially a tax for the poor. So, why tax the poor? Has the governor thought about reducing the cost of running his administration? This would be a more pragmatic approach. If the government desires a change in society, then the change should start with the government. The sacrifice Yahaya Bello desires of the people should start with him and his cabinet.