The Open Alliance for Civil Society and Non State Actors in Anambra State has handed the State government a one-week ultimatum to come up with convincing explanations for the purported taxing of the core poor and most vulnerable groups, especially wheelbarrow pushers and the likes.
The group said it has been inundated with calls and complaints from Stakeholders demanding to know the reason for the development which they described as insensitivity of the State Government and its handlers.
Speaking to TNC correspondent in Awka, Prince Chris Azor, the Coordinator of the group, said they have written to the Commissioner for Transportation and the Chairman, Inland Revenue Service, seeking detailed clarification on the propriety of the exercise.
“As a foremost Coalition of Stakeholders for transparency and accountability, we have just written to the appropriate authorities of State Actors in Anambra, requesting for clarifications on the purported taxing of the core poor and most vulnerable groups, especially wheelbarrow pushers and the likes.
“This is for us absolutely unacceptable.
“We believe that the government of this state can come up with more innovative approaches to raising revenue rather than taxing the core poor.
“Even the Federal Government and indeed other countries, are giving tax exemptions, with palliatives and Social Protection to the core poor affected by COVID-19 and sundry emergencies and general economic downturn.
“Our state government is presently benefitting from the NG-CARES of the Federal Government of over 20 million dollars.
“We are also benefitting from the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability, SIFTAS, 750 million dollars given to the states.
“Anambra State is also benefitting from the World Bank largesse of over 5 million dollars given to the State Community and Social Development Agency,” he disclosed.
Azor who doubles as the Co-Chair Open Government Partnership (OGP) in Anambra State, said Anambra as a state should rather be talking about effective social protection policy, in order to cushion the effects of dislocation and absolute hunger facing the people.
“This is what we should be doing rather than going ahead to tax the core poor and the vulnerable.
“For us it is simply insensitivity of the government to the plights of the people.
“Our people are already pushed to the limits and the government must strive to continually ameliorate the sufferings of the people,” he said.
Meanwhile, the State Government has debunked allegations that it is planning to impose levy on wheelbarrow pushers and allied workers in Anambra State, describing it as a misguided fabrication by mischief makers to cause disaffection between the state government and the citizens.
A statement on the issue on Tuesday by Christian Aburime, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Chukwuma Soludo, emphasized that what is in operation is the existing regulatory framework inherited by the administration from the previous government.
It therefore said it is wrong for any group or individuals to allege or insinuate that the government has imposed any new levy on the workers in that category, assuring that the governor considers the welfare of the citizens of the state a top priority of his administration.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Anambra state government, under Prof Soludo, has not imposed any new levy on wheelbarrow pushers and allied workers.
“What is in operation is the existing regulatory framework inherited by the administration from the previous government.
“It is therefore wrong for any group or individuals to allege or insinuate that the government has imposed any new levy on the workers in that category.
“Soludo advises hardworking Anambra men and women to disregard the allegation and treat it as unfounded.
“At all times, the governor considers the welfare of the citizens of the state a top priority of his administration,” the government said.