NIGERIA – Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu has ordered the suspension of a newly introduced 10 percent tax on single-use plastics and excise duty on some locally manufactured products to reduce business costs in Africa’s biggest economy.

Presidential spokesman Dele Alake said Tinubu signed executive orders suspending a green tax on single-use plastics including plastic containers and bottles that was introduced in March.

The orders also suspended the implementation of a 5 percent telecoms tax and stopped an increase in car import duties and excise duties on selected goods manufactured locally.

“As a listening leader, the president issued these orders to ameliorate the negative impacts of the tax adjustments on businesses and chokehold on households across affected sectors,” Alake told the press.

Tinubu, who took office in May, has embarked on Nigeria’s boldest reform agenda in decades, including the removal of a popular petrol subsidy and restrictions on foreign exchange trading, in a bid to boost sluggish growth in Africa’s largest economy.

At his inauguration, the president had promised to reset the economy, raising hope among investors and citizens after a series of policy missteps that led to two recessions under the eight-year tenure of his predecessor, President Muhammadu Buhari.

Since the subsidy was removed, petrol prices have nearly tripled in Nigeria, angering unions and causing a spike in transport costs.

It has also hit small businesses and millions of households who rely on petrol generators for power due to intermittent grid supply.

There would be no further tax rises without wider consultations, Alake said, adding that Tinubu would pursue business-friendly policies.

Reacting to the suspension of the excise tax on single-use plastics, Mr. Sulaimon Arigbabu, Executive Secretary of HEDA Resource Centre, believes that taxation alone cannot solve the plastic pollution problem.

While calling on Nigerians to do away with the culture of single-use plastics, he urged the government to ban Styrofoam plates and declare a national week of action against plastic pollution.

“Look at the flooding alert that we have just gotten for 14 states in the country. We don’t need international politics to deal with that, we need to deal with our own issues,” said Arigbabu.

According to Mr. Arigbabu, tax is not a silver bullet that is going to solve all plastic pollution problems in the West African country.

“There are so many other things that are needed to be done. So, I want to cut the government some slack that, yes, they have just come on and some of these issues may not be too clear to them even though they’re not new to governance having managed a state like Lagos,” he concludes.

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