Chris Steven, Abuja
Baring any urgent decision by relevant government agencies to relax its multiple taxation policies,private educational institutions in the Federal Capital Territory(FCT) may settle for a hike in tuition fees payable by students from January 2017.
Fears that these high taxes paid by school proprietors may be transfered to parents in the coming year came to the fore,following complaints from proprietors under the auspices of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), FCT chapter.
Some of the proprietors who lamented their ordeal in the hands of illegal tax collectors,said they can hardly cope from the weight of multiple taxation imposed on them by the FCT Administration including Area Councils in Abuja.
They allege that they are being made to pay all manner of levies under questionable names,ranging from tenament rates, ground rent, environmental charges, Educational Tax Fund (ETF), Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund(NSITF), Local government levies on school buses, besides other levies collected for inspection and accreditation purposes hitherto supervised by the Department of Quality Assurance (D.Q.A); a regulatory agency, under the Education Secretariat of FCT.
NAPPS Chairman,FCT Chapter,Samira Jibril who criticized government policies on education,especially since the inception of the current administration, alleged that fraudsters in attempts to overcome the current recession have hijacked the process of collecting taxes on behalf of government with threats to close down their schools if they failed to comply.
She said some schools have been locked up by Area Council officials, causing embarrassment to the students, parents and members of staff,noting that a set of three persons representing FIRS were apprehended and handed over to the police,recently.
According to NAPPS, letters registering their displeasure over these obnoxious taxes which had been dispatched to the Ministers of Education and the Federal Capital Territory,including Chairman, Senate Committee on Education, Permanent Secretary,F.C.T,the Acting Secretary for Education,F.C.T,the Director, Department for Quality Assurance as well as area chairmen representing the six Area Councils in FCT all received no attention.
She noting that they were not averse to paying tax as responsible corporate entities,she said the taxes should be harmonised to show credibility on the part of government.
Her words,”We want to bring to the attention of relevant stakeholders that we will no longer condone multiple, irregular and illegal taxation.
“The National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) FCT Chapter wishes to bring to the urgent attention of the general public and the Federal Government of Nigeria the emerging negative effect of multiple and confused taxation and the need for a decisive and urgent action on reviewing the fiscal policies as relating to the educational sector, a long awaited intervention from government and policy makers and more importantly now as the nation is experiencing a recession.
“Sadly like every other sector, we hardly get value for these levies and taxes, rather we have been continually overburdened by the lack of commitment to infrastructural support. Most of us construct roads, install electricity, sink boreholes to the benefit of the immediate community where we are located.
“Recently, the AMAC officials have been mandated to come up with some form of revenue drive targeted at private schools which is tagged “operational permit” and “environmental fees”. These charges are already covered by the FCT in form of accreditation fees and Abuja Environmental Sanitation Board Charges that are regularly paid by all operators in line with the extant laws.
“The permit to operate private schools is not in the list under schedule 4 of the Constitution and we are aware that any law not passed by the National Assembly cannot apply in the FCT.
“This burden has been further multiplied by the high cost of funds, as most of us seek loans support from commercial and micro-finance banks at expensive interest rate.
Despite this, we are saddled with multiple and heavy taxes which are frustrating and compete with genuine needs of our businesses.
“Over the years we have been saddled with multiple taxation and it is stifling and crippling our businesses; we feel that we should address this issue”.