• Friday, July 19, 2024
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PBAT in bureaucratic limbo on palliative measures

Revenue drive: Tinubu, Shettima to now pay tollgate fees at airports

It is encouraging to see that the federal administration has permanently halted the intended ₦8,000 cash palliative transfers to 12 million households as part of its attempts to mitigate the negative impacts of the elimination of gasoline subsidies.

One can claim with conviction that for the first time in Nigerian history, the majority rebelled against the implementation of these lofty concepts, which might not accomplish the desired result due to political favouritism and the corruption tendencies of our political leaders.

The “National Assembly” has already moved to get 70 billion to support its constituents in the proposal stage, in a manner akin to how the COVID-19 and CA COVID relief package palliatives were messed up by the last administration

It is regrettable that the COVID-19 lockdown provided the government with a means of stealing the relief funds intended to help common Nigerians. One of the ongoing instances was Kemebradikumo Pondei, the acting managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, who claimed that the sum of 1.5 billion was used as the COVID-19 staff relief fund while really plundering the COVID-19 relief funds.

However, Olubunmi Adetunmbi, the former committee chairman, said during the investigation that between October 2019 and May 2020, 3.1 billion was spent as COVID-19 funding. Unexpectedly, the Managing Director passed out during the proceedings in an effort to conceal their shady plundering, which was revealed during the National Assembly’s interactive discussion with the NDDC management.

All over the world, the governments of each nation are making strenuous efforts to alleviate poverty by introducing workable policies to protect their citizens. Part of the effort in Canada is the standardisation of public bus transit in all provinces across the country. Each province finances public-subsidised transportation with the Harmonised Sales Tax (HST), which is a consumption tax imposed on goods and services in certain provinces in Canada.

It is a combination of the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) and provincial sales tax (PST). HST is applicable in provinces like Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. The HST rate varies by province, typically ranging from 13% to 15%. It is similar to Nigeria’s Value Added Tax (VAT), which is applicable nationwide in Nigeria. The standard VAT rate in Nigeria is 7.5%. Like Canada, certain items are exempt from VAT, including basic food items, medical services, educational materials, and exported goods and services.

To alleviate the suffering of the people, a certain percentage of HST is paid to a family every quarter, making it four disbursements in a year. Part of the HST is used to finance daycare and primary and secondary education, which are free. The government contracted free public school buses to take primary and secondary students to school and bring them back in the afternoon.

The buses operate between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. Then, between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Aside from this, a minor who is less than 18 years old doesn’t pay for public transportation within the city. These are the mechanisms the government has put in place to make life easier for the people. While both HST and Nigerian VAT are consumption taxes, there are differences in their applicability, rates, exemptions, and administration.

The public school system in Canada is far better than our glorified private schools, which extort money and increase school fees at intervals. Most of these so-called elitist secondary schools charge exorbitant fees running into millions in Lagos, Abuja, and other cities across the country. The unchecked, incessant increase of school fees by private schools contributed in no small measure to corruption in the public sector.

After all, the majority of civil servants’ children, whose monthly remuneration is not up to half a million naira, attended these schools. The question is, how do they pay millions of Naira as school fees for four kids in a year when your total salary package per year is less than 5 or 6 million naira? Until the government manages to solve this riddle, I presume corruption will continue unabated.

No reasonable country will allow the public institutions to collapse to this abysmal level. The government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (PBAT) has good intentions, but it is overwhelmed with myriad issues that require urgent attention. The government is obviously stuck in bureaucratic limbo over how to implement the palliative measure, knowing the peculiarity of Nigeria as a country without adequate human data.

At this juncture, it is imperative that the government take several steps to reduce poverty among its citizens. Here are some possible actions: One is the implementation of social welfare programmes. The government can introduce or strengthen programmes such as cash transfers, food assistance, and housing subsidies to provide immediate relief to those living in poverty.

This is one of the most difficult routes to exploit because of the lack of data. The cash transfer of the last government was politically motivated; therefore, it fell short of public expectations because it was riddled with corruption. Another is the promotion of inclusive economic growth. Governments can focus on creating an environment that supports job creation and entrepreneurship, particularly in sectors that have the potential to uplift marginalised communities. This can be achieved through investments in infrastructure, education, and skills training programmes.

Also, the government should enhance access to quality education. By investing in education, governments can equip individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge to escape poverty. This includes improving access to schools, providing scholarships or financial aid, and ensuring the quality of education. Now, with the outright removal of subsidies, the government should be able to finance public universities devoid of taunted student loans, which have become an albatross around parents’ necks in this perilous situation in which the country has found itself.

On another footing, the government should improve healthcare accessibility for the citizens. Governments can prioritise healthcare reforms to ensure that all citizens, especially those in poverty, have access to affordable and quality healthcare services.

This can involve expanding healthcare coverage, improving infrastructure, and increasing the number of healthcare professionals in underserved areas. Similarly, social safety nets should be strengthened. Governments can establish or strengthen social safety net programmes, such as unemployment benefits, disability allowances, and pensions, to provide a safety net for those facing financial hardships.

Again, income inequality should be judiciously addressed to bridge the poverty gap in the country. Governments can implement policies that aim to reduce income inequality, such as progressive taxation, minimum wage laws, and labour market regulations.

Read also: 8 palliative plans from Tinubu’s speech

This can help ensure that wealth is distributed more equitably among citizens. The proposed payment of ₦60,000 as the minimum wage by the Edo State government is ridiculous in this present global economic situation. A friend called to tell him that he used ₦61,000 Naira to fuel his car monthly in Abuja.

The cost of primary and secondary education should be scaled down to the barest minimum across the country. Termly, parents are running helter-skelter to meet up with this because of the collapse of public primary and secondary education. As we destroy primary and secondary education tactically and progressively, public universities are at Golgotha, awaiting the final crucifixion.

The government can also foster financial inclusion through intensive sensitization by financial experts. Governments can promote financial literacy and provide access to financial services, such as microfinance and savings accounts, to empower individuals to save, invest, and build assets. Finally, it must audaciously tackle corruption at all levels. Governments can take measures to reduce corruption, strengthen governance, and ensure that public resources are allocated efficiently and effectively to benefit those in need.

Bello, a social commentator, writes from Canada