Ebonyi, House of Assembly last Thursday had summoned the state commissioners for the environment, commerce, industry and finance to explain imposition of multiple taxes on the people.
The House of Assembly condemned imposition of various taxes and levies on the people, which it said, had caused protests by several groups and heightened tension in the state.
Umahi made the observation during an interactive session with newsmen in Abakaliki, saying that the House should follow due process in making such summons.
“This kind of summons cannot obtain in other places such as Enugu or Anambra; no matter the type of sentiments expressed on the issue, the taxes must be paid.
“It will take the House three years to review the provisions of the enforcement one after the other, as the legislators would not be allowed to teach us our job,” he said.
The governor apologised to the people for the overbearing nature of the tax agents, noting that they overstepped ‘their boundaries’.
“We never directed anybody to collect taxes of 2013 and 2014 as we waived the taxes of those years and stipulated only the rates of 2015 for payment.
“We would refund citizens who have paid taxes for 2013 and 2014. They are hereby directed to contact the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) with proof of payment for refunds.
“It was a case of misinformation as the tax agents adopted the well-known policy of collecting arrears of tax payment before the current payments,” he said.
He, however, warned the tax agents against defrauding the people under any guise, noting that anyone found culpable would be imprisoned without sentiments.
“Any citizen who encounters any fraudulent tax agent should immediately contact the SSG through a telephone number that would be made public as the SSG should be proactive on this issue.
“Religious organisations would also pay social services revenues for the amenities provided for them such as water, sanitation, among others,” he said.
Umahi said that the government would convene a town hall meeting next week to interact with the people to amicably resolve the problem.
“We want to feel the peoples’ pulse on the tax issue and would be ready to make concessions where necessary, as a listening government.
“The problem is that people don’t desire to pay taxes, but enhancing our internally generated revenue (IGR) remains the only alternative to cushion the dwindling allocations from the federation account,” he said.
The Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Emmanuel Onwe, said that the government intended to fulfill its promises to the people which necessitated the focus to enhance its IGR.
“This IGR policy dominated our recent State Executive Council sessions as the people should realise that ‘one cannot make an omelet without breaking an egg’,” he said. (The Tide)