Labour Leaders At Loggerheads With Rivers Govt Over Planned Tax Regime | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Labour Leaders At Loggerheads With Rivers Govt Over Planned Tax Regime

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Posted: Jun 18, 2016 at 3:48 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)



Stakeholders in Rivers State have kicked against the planned tax regime that is about to be introduced by the state government through the instrumentality of the House of Assembly.

Speaking at a public hearing on Friday, Mr. Sotonye George, Chairman of Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) in the state, urged members of the State House of Assembly not to pass bill, saying that it would cripple microeconomy of the state.

George suggested that government should instead come up with one tax head to avoid double taxation.

He stated: “It is not friendly with the people; it will kill our business environment and make some few persons, not government, rich. The greatest mistake that the internal revenue will do is to pitch the people against the governor. For the sake of the present government, this bill should be stood down”.

Similarly, the Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, represented by Courage Nsirimovu, called for accountability, saying that the tax was targeted at the consumers, who were the ordinary citizens, “and considering the economic situation, the law is coming at a wrong time”.

Speaking further, Nsirimovu stated that there was the issue of double taxation. According to him, tax was under the exclusive list in the Constitution, adding that the state has no right to come up with taxes.

Comrade Chika Onuegbu, chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Rivers State chapter, opposed the bill saying that it was a re-introduction of the Social Contributory Law.

Onuegbu submitted that the state government should look for other ways of attracting investors instead of imposing new taxes.

The union condemned in its entirety the Rivers State Taxes and Levies (Miscellaneous Provision) bill 2016.

“We are of the opinion that this bill is unnecessary, ill-timed and against the interest of the people of Rivers State.

“However, we are particularly worried about the re-introduction of the illegal and controversial Rivers State Social Services Contributory Levy Law which has been declared as illegal by a court of competent jurisdiction.

“We are therefore unsure what the Rivers State Government wants to achieve by listing such an illegal law in a new bill. We therefore appeal to the Rivers State House of Assembly to use its good office and ensure that Rivers State Social Services Contribution Levy is expunged from the list of taxes to be collected under this law as listed in the schedule to the bill,” he said.

Onuegbu also reminded the Rivers State House of Assembly and the Rivers State Government that even after crossing the legal hurdle occasioned by the  aforementioned  court judgment against the Rivers State Social Services Contributory Levy, that there was a subsisting agreement between the state government and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) , the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) on the effective commencement date of the Social Services Contributory Levy Law  for his members.

Earlier, Speaker of the Assembly, Dabotoru Dima Adams, represented by House Leader, Martins Amaewhule, said that the House would continue to be responsive to the yearnings and aspirations of Rivers people.

Responding to questions from Assembly Press Corps shortly after the hearing, the Joint Committee Chairman, Edison Ehie, said that the House would not pass any bill that would be detrimental to the interest of Rivers people.

He said the public hearing was intended to solicit views, opinions and receive memorandum from concerned stakeholders and promised to take into consideration, submissions of participants in their report to the House.

Among others that spoke during the public hearing were representatives of PHACCIMA, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Tourism, Rivers State Board of Internal Revenue, Auditor-General for Local Government and Auditor-General of State