Published on 24th November 2020.
For that reason, as a pragmatic leader that he is, Sen. Imoke had directed relevant Government Agencies to evaluate the tax structures in the State with the aim to suggest a more appropriate and convenient platform that would be deployed to merge the collections of taxes, be it rates or levies in order to reduce the burden on business operators and owners.
The directive of the former Governor was carried out meticulously. The outcome of the recommendations led to further actions by the Office of the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice overseen by Mr. Attah Ochinke who developed an Executive bill for a uniform tax system.
The motive was that that piece of legislation when passed into Law and gazetted will bring together all revenue collector’s into a common pool under the supervision of the State Ministry of Finance where the Law will be domiciled.
That legislation sought to restrain government agencies like the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Ministry of Environment, Education, DOPT, 100 Marian and Signage Office etc. from indiscriminate collection of levies and other fees separately and independently, a case of brazen extortion in the name of generating revenue for the State when in actual sense, monies collected are neither accounted for or remitted to government purse but largely end up in pockets of dishonest public officials and cronies. However, that is not even the reason for making this post.
Besides, it is worrisome that the few manufacturing outfits we had at the EPZ precinct where a large number of our young people and parents were meaningfully engaged are running out or folding up operations.
So, the big question is;
Where is this law? Because if this Law was gazetted as intended and enforced, the tax relief or Anti Tax Agency of the present government of Prof. Ayade would not come to light.
The point I am struggling to make is that, if this Law is potent, no business organization will ever consider leaving our State to another location. Never!
The information I have provided may not be 100% accurate. I am happy if Barr. Ochinke could provide a better narrative or counter narration other than the ones I have presented to address the issue of taxation for government action before the situation becomes worst.
This State is ours, let’s do the little we can to shape it.
“Thank you Otu Otu Ita for your post. The information you provided is largely correct. The Bill I prepared was eventually passed into Law by the Assembly and assented by the Governor. So it is a potent Law.
The purpose of the Law was to give the Ministry of Finance a bird’s eye view of the tax burden of each business venture or tax payer. The problem the Law aimed to cure is that the various ministries or government agencies, when they place a tax or Levy on a business, they have no idea what the same business is paying to other government agencies. If you take a petrol station for instance, when environmental agencies come to collect levies, they won’t know what Fire Service has already collected, or Signage Agency, or Waste Management.
Each thinks they are collecting a reasonable amount, but when you combine all the various collections, the burden becomes too much for that petrol station. So this Law provide that all collections should be approved by the Commissioner for Finance. This will give him the chance to know the total tax burden on a particular business. He knows what every MDA is collecting so he can reduce or even remove a tax or levy to allow the business survive.
The problem, as you already noted, is that this Law is not being enforced. So each government ministry or agency creates its own levy and impose without knowing what other agencies have already imposed. That lack of co-ordination is what lead to high taxes. Each agency feels they are collecting a small amount. But the business is paying that small amount to too many agencies without control. The control button is in the ministry of finance under the Law you are talking about. Let this government just use the button.”
Otu Otu-ita &
Barr. Attah Ochinke, former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice.