By Etok Okon
The Akwa Ibom State business community has accused the State Government led by Deacon Udom Emmanuel, of showing unfriendly business attitude, saying that the government’s purported economic development of the State should not be complemented with obnoxious multiple and repressive tax system.
Our business correspondent who felt the pulse of many business people in the State, yesterday, on the introduction of the environmental pollution tax by the State Ministry of Environment, gathered that the business world perceived the new tax as exploitative and extorting economic moves by the Udom Emmanuel’s led government. Some of the respondents told our reporter that the environmental pollution tax cannot be alienated or differentiated from the traditional environmental sanitation levy which the same ministry of environment has been collecting from business owners in the State, adding that the exploitation has crippled their businesses.
They noted that environmental pollution is caused by littering of the environment with waste substances, and that if sanitation levies have been paid by business people, government should take care of prompt evacuation of waste materials to evade pollution of the environment, and described the environmental pollution tax as duplication of subject of taxation by the State Government.
Speaking with our correspondent in Ikot Ekpene, a seamstress who identified herself as Emem, said that the pollution tax is aimed at killing small industries in the State.
Emem noted that this year, she had paid shop rate, environmental sanitation levy, shop rent and electricity bill, and added that the pollution tax is inimical to her business, as sewing is no more a lucrative work since many modern-day ladies, and young girls go for ready-made foreign materials. Also speaking, a provision shop keeper, Emmanuel Etim, said if the State Government should introduce pollution tax into the system, the tax incidence should not be on everybody, but on the few persons whose nature of business contributes to either air or water pollution. Etim argued that for the State Government to impose pollution tax on a provision shop is both obnoxious and extortive exploitation of the residents.
He maintained that the new tax would go a long way to making the present government of Akwa Ibom State unpopular, as many administrations in the past did not nurture such business and annihilating taxation in the State.
Other business people who sampled their opinions on the environment pollution tax, said that governments in Lagos, Rivers States and other cities levy big companies and industries which engage in manufacturing or production processes that use machines which burn fuels and emit chemicals and gases which are toxic into the atmosphere. They urged the State Government and the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly to review the subject, saying that traders who sell garri, rice, yams and other food commodities in shops should not be assessed for environmental pollution tax by the Ministry. However, at the time of filing these reports, efforts to reach the State Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Iniobong Essien for his comments on the issue was abortive.