The Chairman of the Anti-Tax Agency, Bishop Emmah Isong has said that the Governor of Cross Rivers State, Benedict Ayade, is keen on protecting Small and Medium Enterprises in the state.
Bishop Emmah Isong in an interview with “Nigeria info FM Abuja” revealed that SMEs in the state have experienced a bridge in the gap of poverty, growth in business and employment opportunities since the advent of the agency.
Isong stated that different arms like, the agency arm, local government arm; with representatives across the 18 local government areas in the state, enforcement arm which includes the anti-tax brigade and legal arm; those in charge of arraining and prosecuting the illegal tax companies, have been put in place.
However, the State Government has created opportunity for the illegal tax collectors to be involved in agriculture through loan and grants, in order to prevent high rate of hooligalism in the state.
Nigerians who contributed to the “media dialogue” programme on Nigeria Info FM Abuja commended the effort of the Governor of Cross River State and urged the Federal Government to emulate the move in order to eradicate poverty in the country at large.
Elucidating one of his experiences before the coming up of the River State Anti Tax Agency, he said, “a woman who hawks cooked maize was once arrested by those hooligans and was asked to pay two thousand nairas (2,000.00). All she had on her which was from the proceeds of the sales was one thousand eight hundred (1,800). This woman rolled on the ground necked pleading for help, but none could.
This is a woman who has children to feed, send to school from every day’s sales. But today all those wickedness are no more with the help of the agency”.
He noted that when people are not organised by the government, a few individuals regroups and prey on others economically through the instrumentality of illegal taxation.
“This is what the government has identified and established the Cross River State Anti Tax Agency to fight it”.
“The government agency which is aimed at protecting small and medium skill businesses has and persistently working on organising people and getting them to their rights”.
He further stated that the state government has instituted a special court where such related issues are taken care of.
Earlier, Isong disclosed that the government is full of strategic and tactical policies and programs which is focused on improving the livelihood of individuals to better the economy.
“Social government policies was introduced by the government which in turn empowered over 50 Bakasi displaced widows in the state.
According to him “The removal of illegal taxes has drastically reduced the cost of food items, transportation. The prices of goods and services we’re high because of these unwarranted taxes.
“For instance, bringing food stuff from Ogoja to Calabar, you have to pass through 17 checkpoints and we all know the implication. Now, those checkpoints are knocked off, and the resultant effect was the crashing of prices of goods and services. Overloading too has stopped and yet the cost of transport and foodstuffs at its minimal”.
He urged both states and the federal government to emulate Cross River State government to empower the small and medium skill businesses.