From Maurice Okafor,Enugu
The Federal government agencies including hospitals and federal institutions based in Enugu state are indebted to the Enugu state government to the tune of fourteen billion Naira, which accrued from non- remittance of their tax payments to the coffers of the state government.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi dropped this hints yesterday, as the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun took her crusade on ‘Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS)’ to Enugu.
Ugwuanyi pleaded with the finance minister that if the huge amount is recouped, it will add to the socio economic development of the state. Ugwuanyi added that amidst the huge debt, his administration is still making input in the restructuring of several federal government projects and institution that have direct impact on the lives of the people and the rest of Nigerians resident in Enugu state.
Towards this direction, the state government has spent over N2.7 billion on the reconstruction of some federal roads, which includes the 9th Mile- Udi – Oji River – Ugwuoba – Anambra State border; sections of the 9th mile – Opi Expressway and the 9th Mile-Ngwo-Miliken-New Market road.
While requesting the minister’s intervention on the payment of the outstanding tax debts owed by the federal agencies, Gov. Ugwuanyi enjoined “all Tax payers in Nigeria, but more particularly in Enugu State, to participate actively in VAIDS especially when it offers citizens the opportunity to regularize their tax status and avoid prosecution or investigation for tax-related offences”.
Earlier in her speech, the finance minister, Mrs Adeosun emphasized the imperatives of adequate tax payment as a measure of enhancing socio infrastructural development of the country.
She emphasized the need for the development of taxes that will assist states and the country achieve their potentials and vision for the people, stressing that “with regular taxes, we will avoid the pain that the recent collapse in oil prices and the consequent recession inflicted on Nigerians”.
The minister disclosed that the federal government has recognized that infrastructure is the key to job creation, growth and wealth, stressing that “payment of taxes is a fundamental requirement for our growth story”.
Her words, “We have already released N1.2 trillion in capital so far for the 2017 budget, which commenced in June and most of this was applied to roads, bridges, rails, power, our airports and other key infrastructural projects”.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary of Joint Tax Board, Sir Oseni Elamah, who applauded the finance minister for initiating the scheme, also commended Gov. Ugwuanyi on his giant strides in Enugu State.
Sir Elamah who described Gov. Ugwuanyi as a “digital governor”, said that the governor has been able to manage the resources of the state in a transparent manner that has added value to the lives of the people, wondering how he has been able to achieve such remarkable feats with the meagre income of the state.
“The governor (Ugwuanyi) is doing it in a digital way, because we all know that Enugu State is not one of the oil producing states, it is among the states that get the least federal allocation. We wonder where the governor gets the resources to do all that he is doing”, the Executive Secretary said.