Foodstuff and Cattle dealers threaten nationwide strike over multiple taxation

⦁ Foodstuff prices to skyrocket

The prices of foodstuff are expected to increase astronomically in the next few days; as the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers, on Tuesday said their members would withdraw their services nationwide over multiple taxations and Police extortion on the roads.

The union, an affiliate of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), said they would, however, give the government between the next one and two months to resolve the problem; based on the promise of President Muhammadu Buhari and the recent intervention of the Inspector General of Police.

Speaking with the media in Abuja on Tuesday, the union called on the governments at all levels – federal, state and local government- to ensure that the gangs of tax collectors on the roads and Police stop endemic harassment of their members.

National President of the Union, Mohammed Tahir Ibrahim, said the harassment and excess taxation usually leads to the extra cost of foodstuff which is then passed to the consumers.

He explained that what they pay on a trailer load of Cattles as taxes and on extortion from Maiduguri to Lagos was now far higher than the total cost of the Cattles, adding that while a trailer load of cattle cost N330,000, they pay about N400,000 for illegal taxation; while they pay charges of about N226,000 on a truckload of foodstuff.

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Ibrahim said: “The extortion of members of our union has had a negative effect on the price of foodstuff and beef. For the purpose of illustration, the multiple taxes regime adds over one hundred per cent cost on the ordinary prices of foodstuff and Cattles. The multiple taxations for a truckload of cattle often amount to about N450,000  which is higher than the transportation cost of N330,000. Similarly, the charges on a truckload of foodstuff are about N226,000.

Already, he pointed out that the  Union had in January, this year informed President Muhammadu Buhari on the plight of the members of the union; and the President assured them that he would take action on the multiple taxation.

Besides, he stated that they had informed and written to the Inspector General of Police about the issue, adding that the IG had sent signals to all the commands for action, but regretted that nothing had been done till now.

On what would be their next action, he said: “Already we informed the President on January 11 and he assured that he will take action on the multiple taxations. We have also met with the Inspector General of Police and he sent signals to all AIGs from zone 1 to 12 but our problem is basically with Zone 6, zone 9, zone 3, and zone 4.

“We don’t have a problem in Adamawa which is the loading point but from there down to South-South and South-East is the problem. Despite the IG’s signal, nothing has been done about it. We have also written letters to Ministers of Labour and Agriculture and Director of SSS. The only solution now is to withdraw our services and embark on a nationwide strike.”

He stated that the union had in 2010 declared to go on strike but was invited by the then Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbe, who prevailed on them to stop the nationwide strike as it would affect the prices of goods.

He pointed out that the Minister then, also promised that the government would address the issue, hence the nationwide strike was stopped.

But on Tuesday, he insisted that their members won’t have the option, if, in the next two months, the government and the IG failed to permanently address the issue.

He said: “Though the Ministry of Labour and Agriculture invited us and said your nationwide strike will affect the nation’s economy so we shouldn’t go with the promise that they will do something. The former Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh even set up a committee to check the multiple taxation but up till now, nothing has happened. We will give them one or two months to see the effect of the IG’s directive but if nothing is done, we are going to embark on a nationwide strike.”

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