How Akwa Ibom Marketer defy Emmanuel on tax reduction for traders
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Market leaders may have defied Governor Udom Emmanuel’s directive to reduce taxes for traders to cushion the economic hardship arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is traders across major markets in the state have raised the alarm that they been taxed heavily and illegal in addition to the allegation of multiple taxation.
The traders, mostly women, alleged that they have molested and extorted by revenue collectors who work for splinter tax unions in the markets.
They expressed their frustrations on Thursday during a virtual meeting organised by Policy Alert, a Civil Society Organization on “Covid-19 Tax Holiday in Akwa Ibom State”.
Governor Emmanuel had given tax holiday to commercial vehicle operators, and traders in the State so as to cushion the adverse economic effect of corona virus outbreak.
‘‘The decision is in line with the World Bank requirements for giving out grants and reward to cushion the effects of COVID-19 pandemic in the country,’’ Akwa Ibom Government said.
A trader in Akpan Andem Market in Uyo metropolis, Mfon Okon alleged that some agents set up by market unions are still collecting revenue forcefully from them
According to her, ‘‘here in Akpan Andem Market every shop is made to pay N500 for electricity, N700 for Uyo Local Government, N500 for security and N1000 as development levy amongst others.”
Also Ofonime Udoakpan a trader from Eket revealed that some of these acclaimed government officials stay in the bush track to waylay poor women who carry vegetables and collect money from them in the name of ticket.
This from investigation, has contributed to the high cost of food items such as; garri, water leaf, meat, rice/beans, yam, pumpkin and periwinkle amongst others.
In his Submission the Chairman of the Civil Society Organisations forum, Harry Udoh lamented that informal revenue collection in Akwa Ibom State is fraught with corruption and criminality adding that most times receipts are not been issued after payment.
Udoh who commended the State government for the tax relief urged it to ensure the enforcement so that its efforts would not be sabotaged.
But one of the participants, Michael Inyang said the State government should not just issue tax holiday without first, liaising with the local government authorities.
According to him, local government authorities contract the revenue generation to an individual who pays the money in full to them.
“The person or persons involved will do everything possible to recoup his money and make profits as well. So how do you expect someone who had paid that revenue at the beginning of the year to forfeit his money in the name of tax holiday? I think the State government should meet with the local government chairmen to chat a way forward.” Inyang said.
The representative of Akwa Ibom Internal Revenue Service, Kufre Ibokette said government collects tax according to law and not by tricks describing those agents collecting levies from market women as thieves because they do not remit the money to coffers of government
However, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport in the State, Mr. Nse Edem reiterated that the State government has withdrawn ticketing and other levies noting that plain cloth taskforce would be inaugurated to enforce the decision of the government.
“No more haulage levies, tickets, issue of emblems etc. till further notice, any person caught is operating illegally and must be prosecuted,” Edem said.