v As IIRS, IMSSA, others unleash havoc
“Business owners in Imo State have cried out over the havoc being unleashed on them, as regards multiple and crazy taxations by the Hope Uzodinma APC administration with the connivance of its agencies, including the Imo Internal Revenue Service (IIRS) the Environmental Transformation Agency (ENTRACO) IMSSA, the Imo State Waste Management Agency ISWMA among others. Hence most of the investors in the state have concluded plans to relocate their businesses to neigbouring states where they hope to get some reprieve”.
An investor in the state who identified himself as Chief Bas Ole stated this in a chat with journalists in Owerri the Imo State capital recently.
He noted with disappointment that prior to this dispensation, tax payers we duly and transparently assessed after filling the necessary forms where they declared their incomes and expenditure. Thereafter, they were giving rebates, otherwise known as free pay allowances.
The top notch investor in the Small and Medium Enterprises hospitality line noted with regret that the situation has changed as virtually all the agencies of government have devised all kinds of methods to extort and siphon money from business owners in the state in the guise of taxation, levies, VAT, etc that come under sundry subheads.
Chief Bas Ole said, “before now we used to make harmonized payments directly to the Board of Internal Revenue (BIR), consequent upon which it remitted whatever is due to other agencies. But now, despite the economic melt down and unconducive business environment, we are compelled to pay all kinds of taxes and levies to the various agencies of government through different accounts. To worsen matters, some of the account details are personal accounts that don’t have any link with the agencies collecting the revenue”.
There are also speculations that the Imo State government is using the issue of multiple taxation that has become the albatross of investors and business owners in the state as a veritable tool of vendetta and witch-hunting to cow and intimidate its rivals and opponents.
A case in point is that of Nigeria Watchdog Newspaper which its premises is said to have been constantly visited by staff of the IIRS who came to deliver multiple demand notices even when the newspaper outfit had not been formally assessed as provided by the relevant laws, provision and guidelines. It was also reported that the media outfit was asked to pay taxes for the years it was not in operation.
Speaking in the same vein, an investor in the state who does not want his name in print for security reason said, “I have been in the private sector for a long time now, so I understand when agencies of government are running after you for statutory bills. I also know when their motive is geared towards punitive measures”.
“As it is now, the later aim is what is playing out. How can a government with human face be this insensitive to the plight of Medium and Small scale enterprises in the state? All the agencies of Imo state government are on the loose at the moment, closing businesses down for failure to meet up with multiple taxes and levies. What is the size of my business premises? What is its production cost? And what is my gross profit monthly or quarterly that justifies this outrageous bill? It is very clear that the Uzodinma administration has declared a total clampdown on political opponents in Imo State. This is dangerous, sad and condemnable. I have gone round. As I am suffering this obnoxious charges, so are most of my friends who are in other camps outside the APC complaining about these prohibitive charges”.
“Instructively, other states across the country are granting tax incentives and waivers to support Small Scale businesses”.
Majority of the business owners who spoke to our correspondent berated the Hope Uzodinma led-Imo State government for not encouraging businessmen and investors through the provision and conducive business programs and policies to facilitate the creation of employment opportunities for youths which will also help in addressing insecurity, in the state.
“It is unfortunate that rather than thinking of how to address the numerous challenges confronting the state, government and its agencies are churning out all kinds of anti-people policies that not only create more challenges but also invigorate the existing ones with attendant consequences”.
They called on the state government to urge its agencies to be humane in their dealings and transactions with Imo people, including members of the opposition.
“This is necessary because the current vicious aggression and onslaught against friends, relative and associates of those it views as enemies or political opponents in the states is not only uncalled for but counter productive,” they said.