Oyedele faces backlash over presidential appointment, responds

Ogunsakin Mustapha
5 Min Read
Prof Taiwo Oyedele, Presidential Committee on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms

By Ayomide Ogunsakin

In the wake of President  Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s appointment of Prof Taiwo Oyedele, a Fiscal Policy Partner and Africa Tax Leader at PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), to serve as the Chairman of the recently established Presidential Committee on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms, critics have taken to Twitter to raise arguments and tweet against the appointment of Oyedele.

Some of such tweets were made by a Twitter user, @eadewunmi, who stated:

_“The right thing for @PwC_Nigeria & @taiwoyedele to prevent a scandal is to disclose all their conflicts of interest. A firm and partner that consults and openly lobbies on behalf of industry against government taxes shouldn’t design fiscal policy. You can’t be player and referee._

_Mr Oyedele actively lobbied on behalf clients against pro-health taxes like the sugar-sweetened beverages tax leading to the rescinding of a proposed 20% ad valorem tax on sin taxes, depriving the health sector of needed revenue and putting lives at risk._

_A government-client related conflict in Australia led to the shutdown of PwC’s advisory practice there. How will @PwC_Nigeria and Taiwo Oyedele guarantee that their clients wouldn’t benefit from his government role?”_

Oyedele responded: “I can help you with a bit of education. I was going to ignore this but for the sake of your innocent followers you wish to mislead._

_A 20% tax was never introduced or even proposed by the government. It was N20 per liter which was later approved at N10 per litre on soft drinks, juice etc. I guess you don’t have a problem with government taxing these products even if it means some Nigerians losing their jobs. Nigeria’s sugar consumption per capita is one of the lowest in the world but people like you prefer to import foreign templates to Nigeria without proper impact assessments and understanding the local context._

_Excise tax increases on other products were announced for 2022 to 2024 by the government but later escalated midway into implementation. A bit of education will help you to understand that such policy somersault will not only hurt the sector being taxed but will make the investment climate uncertain and unattractive._

_You can also get a bit of education if you check my work in the tax space which is freely available online including many instances when I have supported the government to raise taxes including free consulting and even sponsorship of efforts to expand the tax net through VAIDS._

_I also championed both the exemption of people earning N30k or less from tax as well as exemption of small businesses earning N25m or less from VAT. I guess it doesn’t matter to you that those vulnerable people are being over-taxed and you won’t tell your followers that the people I advocated for are not my clients, rather I did it in the public interest._

_I am currently advocating for the 7.5% VAT on diesel to be suspended given the impact of rise in transportation and other costs as a result of petrol subsidy removal. Perhaps your desire is for government to tax anything and everything even if it means taxing poverty._

_I can also remind you of my advocacy for government to reduce minimum tax rate which forces struggling companies to pay tax even when they are loss making. It’s likely you don’t care if more companies shut down or exit Nigeria._

_My interest has always been public interest, and it is not going to change now whether I am advocating for the private sector or not. This has been consistent in my career spanning over 2 decades. If that seems like conflict of interest to you then I cannot be of much help._

_You’re absolutely free to share your single story view, but you’re not permitted to share ignorance. Please get a bit of education if you must comment on a subject you seem completely clueless about._

_And if you have any problem with Australia, please reach out to them. I am a Nigerian, I live and work in Nigeria.”_

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