The Niger Delta University (NDU) chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has demanded an urgent review of the tax rates recently introduced by Bayelsa State.
Beke Sese, ASUU chairman in the Bayelsa government-owned NDU who made the call in a press statement issued from Yenagoa over the weekend. Mr. Sese said the new tax rate had increased the suffering of the work force in the state.
In February 2013, the Bayelsa State government began implementing the new tax structure spelt out in the Personal Income Tax Act (PITA), 2011.
Mr. Sese stressed that his union was not opposed to taxation. He added, however, that the government’s rigid stance that the full implementation of the new tax law was not negotiable was inconsistent with the spirit of democracy.
He described the taxation policy as punitive to academic staff, arguing that it subjected their peculiar academic allowances to taxation.
“Of specific concern to academic staff at the Niger Delta University, is the subjection of our peculiar academic allowances to taxation. These allowances are in our monthly wages because research grants are hardly available.
“Taxing our academic allowances is tantamount to paying taxes out of our working tools, which should have been classified as tax exempt under the Personal Income Tax Act,” he said.
He noted that the revenues from the new tax rate would merely translate to a reduction in the state’s wage bill. He contended that the enhanced tax collection could not be classified as internally generated revenue as the private sector presence in Bayelsa is negligible.
The academic regretted that the high tax rate would take a toll on some departments as many of the most experienced lecturers have signified their intention to seek opportunities in universities in other states with more favorable tax policies.
The ASUU chairman disclosed that a typical professor paid one hundred and ten thousand naira (N110, 000) out of a monthly salary of about six hundred thousand naira (N600, 000). He asserted that such exorbitant tax was likely to trigger the ‘brain drain’ syndrome.
Mr. Sese advised the state government to avert the mass exodus of experienced lecturers or risk losing critical accreditation by the National University Commission for various academic programs run by the university.
Reacting to the concerns of the ASUU chapter, Timipre Seipulan, the special assistant on treasury and revenue to Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa, defended the new tax rates. Mr. Seipulan noted that the new tax law introduced last month was a federal law that was binding on all states of the federation.