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Continued from last week

ON the chronic issue of tax evasion, it is imperative that some effective means for preventing and detecting it should be devised. This is a job for a team of experts. Nevertheless, some means come readily to mind. Firstly, in the people’s Republic of Nigeria, the emphasis should be on indirect tax: revenue from personal income tax should be made as minimal as possible; and direct tax should be levied mainly on corporations and companies. It is well-known that evasion is not so easy in the case of indirect taxation, or where corporations and companies are concerned. Secondly, it should be enacted that any saving, or property of any description whatsoever, owned or acquired by any Nigerian citizen in excess of his known or declared sources of income (including certified loan from a bank or a reputable lending institution) minus a reasonable amount for personal expenditure, should be forfeited to the state. And anyone whose personal expenditure or style of living is in excess of his known or declared source of income should prima facie be guilty of an offence, until he establishes his innocence. Any offence against the revenue should carry severe sanctions, including forfeiture and long-term imprisonment.

Two beneficial results will emerge from the radical – indeed revolutionary – reforms advocated in this Section. Firstly, there will be a widespread redistribution of wealth with beneficial effects on our economy and society. It is well-known that where, in an underdeveloped country like ours, wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, there always exist (1) stiff reaction to progress and innovation on the part of the rich, (2) bitter disaffection between the poor and the rich, and (3) conspicuous consumption, and great propensity to import on the part of the wealthy classes. All these evils will be removed by redistribution, and the way will be open for a more rational, more efficient, and more beneficial utilization of our resources. Secondly, inheritance of wealth, which is one of the worst and most indefensible causes of inequality of income, will be abolished and, along with this abolition, posthumous greed will be exterminated.

 

  1. Assimilation of salaries etc.

Two of the many fruitful sources of discontent in this country are (1) differing salaries and conditions of service between person holding the same qualifications and performing identical, or comparable and analogous functions in different sectors of the economy; and (2) the enjoyment of special benefits and privileges by certain categories of employees, to the exclusion of others.

What happens in Nigeria, at the moment, may be simply illustrated. Four persons-A, B, C, and D-graduate from one of the universities in Nigeria or overseas with identical or equivaler degrees. A enters the teaching profession; B joins the civil service; gets a job in one of the statutory corporations; and D is employed by one of the big concerns in the private sector. As things are now, ru only will these four persons start with differing initial salaries, but also B, C, & D will, in ascending order of magnitude, enjoy fring benefits, such as free or subsidised house, car basic allow ano children’s separate domicile allowance, etc., which are denied 0 only grudgingly and on a very parsimonious scale, conceded to A

The results of these senseless and unjustifiable differenciation have been pernicious and pervasive: a state of permanent labour unrest; deepening bitterness and hatred on the part of th unprivileged mass against the privileged few; the scramble by squal or round pegs for round or square holes, all depending on which holes are, for the time being, more lucrative, with general loss inproductivity; and thoughtless, conspicuous, extravagant, an immoral living, with resultant ill effects on our society as a whole to avoid these evil effects in the people’s Republic of Nigeria, VI must be guided, in these matters, by the following cardinal principle

(i) Equal pay for identical or equal qualifications and merits;

(ii) Same pay for identical or comparable and analogous jobs; an

(iii) Total abolition of privileges and’ fringe bcnefits’;-tha t is I say, no one in the people’s republic of Nigeria should be allowed I receive, in cash or kind, anything over and above the salary or wa] attached to his post or job.

If these principles are adhered to, five Significant and wholesome advantages will be derived. Firstly, people would have, in so far remuneration can do it, permanent incentives to do, concentrate 0n and specialise in, jobs for which they are best fitted, and for which they have natural flair or bent, and they would perform such jobs wil unabated enthusiasm. In other words, born teachers, for instance, will no longer want to be cashiers or managers in a business establishment, but will, instead of expending most of their time in writing applications and going around looking for better-paid jobs, stay permanently and enthusiastically, and give of their best, in their profession. Secondly, social injustice, such as is evidenced by a state of affairs in which a person on a salary of, say, £325 per annum pays £90 per annum as rent for a single room, while another on, say, £3,250 per annum pays only £150 a year for a big house with a large compound, will be removed. Thirdly, the gap between the high and low income groups would be reduced, and this would lead automatically to a considerable reduction in the widespread disaffection and discontent which the masses of our people now nurse against the well-to-do few. Fourthly, such labour unrest as arises mainly from huge disparities in salaries, wages, and conditions of service would be reduced to the barest minimum, if not completely eliminated. Fifthly, those occasions for nepotism, favouritism, and corruption, which are facilitated by the natural and consuming desire of an employee to move or transfer from a non-privileged or less privileged and less lucrative post to a privileged or more privileged and more lucrative one, will be totally extinguished.

To be continued

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