Governor Chukwuma Soludo on Wednesday announced a cutdown in the taxes payable by transport operators across board in Anambra state.
The governor announced the reduction at a crucial meeting he had with transport operators today at the Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, Awka, where critical issues were discussed.
The new tax regime introduced by the Chukwuma Soludo administration has been greeted by so much criticism, especially as regards what the people tagged over-taxation and multiple taxation.
However, at the meeting, the transport operators asked the state government to make all its collections daily payments and to reduce the amount it is asking them to pay.
Some shuttle bus drivers, who noted that the business is not as lucrative as many believe due to how the vehicle is brought into the country, asked the governor to reduce the rates they are asked to pay and to make it daily payment for them.
Truck drivers, who spoke at the meeting, raised the consciousness of government to the monies collected from them at the boundaries and the monies collected from them from communities.
Others including Okada operators and Keke operators lamented that touts are yet to be removed from the roads and asked the government to do something about the issue.
Responding, Governor Soludo announced a reduction for all the operators, while also granting the waiver for them to pay on a weekly basis.
According to the governor, as against their initial tax of N15,000 monthly, Keke operators are now to pay 10,000 to be paid 2,500 a week, while taxi drivers are to pay 12,000 to be paid 3000 a week as against the initial 17,000.
The governor also slashed the tax for Shuttle buses to 12,000, Mini-truck will now pay 15,000 monthly, while Okada riders are to pay 4000 monthly.
Mr Governor also suspended heavy duty, produce and trucks levies.
According to him, the government will go back to drawing board to work out a system that will ensure that nobody is taxed twice.
Soludo maintained that his government is working to engender a comprehensive tax reform that will entail automation of the tax collection system, to totally eradicate touts and multiple taxation.
“My administration is determined to entrench a tax system that is progressive. The implication is that the taxes will be according to what the people earn.
“The state as at today, has a road crisis and that was why I declared a state of emergency on roads in the state, and to accomplish our agenda on roads, the government needs money.
“However, as a progressive government, my administration is determined to make sure that the poor is not burdened, hence the need for this consultation,” he said.
The governor, while noting that the issue of daily payment can no longer work in the state, as it breeds touts, said his government is working on getting a technology and system that will enable daily payment but said until then, the payments must be made weekly.
On the issue of transport unions, Soludo revealed that his government does not intend to do away with the unions but insisted that they must be union of the operators and not people who have no business with the transport sector superintending over the actual operators.
He said; “The unions will come back after the enumeration, so that real operators will be elected in a transparent manner.”
Governor Soludo also promised to set up an enforcement platform with phone numbers to ensure that operators report issues of touting, extortion and other negative occurrences in the industry.
He further assured the operators that all resources committed to his custody as governor will be judiciously put to use for the best interest of Ndi Anambra, urging them to have faith in his government’s ability to protect their interests.
Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the State Internal Revenue Service, AIRS, Mr Richard Madiebo explained that the meeting was a follow-up to an earlier meeting held with some operators, in line with government’s efforts to find lasting solution to the complaints raised by the operators over the taxes.
He assured them that the Soludo administration believes in dialogue and will never take decisions that will impact negatively on the people but will consult so that collectively, a better approach can be evolved and adopted.