By Mike Adeyemi
The people of Kwara State have blamed price hike of cooking gas across the country on the reintroduction of import tax on the commodity.
Those who spoke on the development in separate interviews with our reporter on Saturday urged the Federal Government to halt the tax as the current hike in the commodity has brought hardship on them.
They said that removing the VAT was the only measure that could bring down the retail price of the commodity in the country.
Segun Agbaje, a banker said, “We know that over 60 per cent of cooking gas in the country is imported. The importers will add Value Added Tax (VAT) to the cost of importation and other expenses.
“Sometimes last year when there was no VAT, 6kg cost between N1,800 and N2,000 to refill at the retail gas plant, while 12.5kg costs between N3,500 and N3,800.
“But today because of VAT, 6kg is refilled between N3,200 and N3,400, while 12.5kg costs between N6,250 and N6,350,” Agbaje said.
He added that this import tax was removed some years ago but the federal government decided to bring it back two months ago.
Yusuf Saka, a gas dealer said the hike had caused serious drop in sales “because only a few people can afford it at the current price.
“Before the hike, I know how much I usually make daily but since the new price took effect, my daily sales have dropped significantly.
“Government should consider withdrawing the tax so that the price will return to what it was before.
“Government should wait until domestic supply by Nigerian Liquified Natural Gas hits 90 per cent before reintroducing the import tax, meant to discourage the importation of the commodity,” he said.
Jumoke Olayemi, a trader at Mandate market expressed sadness that the price of the commodity had gone beyond the reach of many Kwarans.
Olayemi absolved dealers of blame in the price hike, saying that the commodity’s selling price was usually determined by the cost price.
“Importers are businessmen and not charity organisations. They will add the cost of importation, tax paid and their profit margin to arrive at the retail price.
“Government’s emphasis now should not be to impose tax on imported items but how to increase the domestic production of cooking gas to meet local demand.
“As a mother, I preferred to use gas because it does not stain pots. Government should consider the pain Nigerians are going through and remove the tax to make the commodity affordable,” she urged.