|Dr Emmah Isong|
Judex Okoro (Daily Sun)
The Chairman of the Cross River State Anti-tax Agency, Bishop Emmah Isong, has disclosed that council chairmen are behind the collection of illegal taxation and tolls in Cross River state.
Isong, who doubles as the Publicity Secretary of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), said it is high time traders resisted the illegal tax collectors who come to harass them for levies.
Speaking at the second anniversary activities of the agency held in Calabar at the weekend, he said: “Council chairmen are the chief perpetrators of illegal taxation.
Politicians are using levy collection points as settlement of the boys (thugs) after elections. So, you can see that Illegal taxation has been institutionalised.”
He said Governor Ben Ayade set up Anti Tax Agency to prevent the collection of taxes and levies from low income earners, adding that “two years after the agency was established, it has reduced illegal taxation by 40%, and vowed that the agency must make sure that illegal taxation is wiped out of Cross River state.
“We will continue to preach against those who frustrate and milk our state for their selfish gains. This agency is the first of its kind in Cross River state and Africa.
“We know other government agencies have also encroached into our constitutional duty and now we face threats.We therefore, call on traders to reaisit illegal tax collectors who come to harass them. Once there is a mob action against illegal tax collectors, their activities will stop.
“In addition, some politicians who engage in illegal taxation should be punished and not be allowed to enter public offices.
“We are not yet where we are supposed to be but we are not where we used to be.The tears of Ayade will not be in vain. We are not just a food on the table agency. We are a post COVID-19 palliative.”
“So, we call for adequate funding of the agency and recruitment of more workers as most of them are volunteers so that the agency could do more.”
He noted that taxation is the oldest form of revenue generation in the world, but regreted that most people are hiding under government agencies and public offices to abuse taxation.”
To fight the illegal tax menace, Isong siad the agency is not discouraged by this and is becoming well positioned to address the menace.
He added that local government representatives have been employed and deployed to the 18 local government areas of the state and we have also liased and interfaced with other arms of government.
The agency was established in 2020 to prevent illegal taxation in order to promote small scale businesses and entrepreneurship in Cross River state.