Some stakeholders in Anambra State have appealed to Professor Chukwuma Soludo-led state government to ensure judicious utilization of all revenue generated internally as a way of encouraging voluntary tax compliance.

They made the appeal at a dialogue session on the Tax for Service Project in Anambra State organized by a Non-Governmental Organization, the Social and Integral Development Centre, (SIDEC), in partnership with the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room with funding support from of the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO).

They noted a marked improvement in the utilization of tax and levies for the provision of social amenities across the state but called for greater transparency and accountability from the government to further encourage the citizens especially those who still evade such statutory obligation.

A consultant on the Tax for Service needs assessment study of traders in major markets in the state, Mr Jerry Orajekwe, while presenting the report of the Tax for Service Study, traced the loopholes in the revenue windows of the state to lack of transparency and accountability in governance, apathy to tax, as well as perceived government insensitivity to the needs of the people.

The report appealed to the government to continue to sensitize the citizenry on tax matters, address concerns and grievances of the people through transparent information about tax revenue allocation and utilization while giving due regard to public expectations when allocating tax proceeds among other things.

During a panel discussion, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Trade and Market, Chief Evarist Ubah, expressed worry that the amount of revenue generated in the informal sector of the state does not reflect the volume of economic activities going on across its nooks and crannies.

“What most traders pay now are levies not tax. Even at that, most of them still evade it. That is why despite having big markets everywhere, government is not generating commensurate amount of money from there. I appeal to our people to help the government to serve them better”.

For his part, the Chairman, Anambra Internal Revenue Service, AiRS, Dr Greg Ezeilo, represented by the Executive Director, Assessment, Mr Ben Okafor, described markets as the strength of the State government to which greater attention must be paid to pluck all the leakages in revenue generation.

“Tax helps the government to execute its programmes and plan for the state. When the present administration came in, the revenue base in form of tax was very low. But, since then, things are looking up. Also, since June 2023 when the revenue house got a new helmsman, our revenue has been on the rise.

“We have the mandate to make four billion monthly, we can get there. We need to stop non state actors feasting on government revenue,” he noted.

Also, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Mr Ike Chinedu, who was represented by the Director, Industry, Mrs Janet Eboh Nwosu, appealed to the public to change the mindset about taxation and its imperative in governance. “Many want to see what government does before they pay their taxes. We should get to a level we shall not be forced to pay our tax”.

Earlier in a welcome address, the Executive Director, SIDEC, Mrs Ugochi Agalaba Ehiaruike, insisted that while efforts are being made to encourage traders to pay their taxes and levies, the state government must be responsible and accountable in the utilization of the revenue collected.

“Before now, traders have been complaining that when they paid taxes or levies, they did not get services from the government. That was as a missing link. Tax payment is a statutory obligation. But, when it is paid, services rendered by the government must improve”.

The President General, Anambra State Association of Town Unions, ASATU, Chief Titus Akpudo, who was represented by ASATU’s Information Officer, Chief Emeka Mbagha, stressed the need for the government to carry the communities along in its revenue drive.

“We are proud to identify with this noble project. But we will be happy if we are always carried along on issues of revenue generation in the communities because stop every form of touting which we still witness despite all the government is doing to stamp it out”.

The Chairman, Main Market Onitsha, Chief Innocent Ezeoha, who also expressed delight with the programme, used the occasion highlight the pressing needs at the market including CCTV cameras to beef up security of lives and goods as well as provision of social amenities including roads, to justify the huge sums generated as revenue from the market.

In their various goodwill messages, members of the Tax Justice and Governance Programme, Engineer Anthony Aniebue and Mrs Ify Unachukwu, appealed to citizens to pay their taxes and levies but insist on accountability from the state government.

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