Governor Ben Ayade of Cross Rivers State could not hold back his tears as he momentarily wept after feeling the pains of low-income earners who have been burdened with tax.
Ayade, at the inauguration of an anti-tax agency, a move which is part of the state’s COVID-19 palliative measures, said it is sad that the government that does not meet the needs of the people in many areas still collects tax from them.
“This is not Ben Ayade, this is not my nature,” the Governor said. “I am not wired for this insensitivity to a weaker person.
“I never knew that five years into office as Governor, I will still find someone living in a thatched house in Cross River.”
The Governor went on to inaugurate the agency – headed by Bishop Emma Isong – which is designed to abolish payment of taxes by low-income earners.
Ayade disclosed that the tax exemption is aimed at encouraging small and medium scale businesses, peasant farmers, commercial transport operators, food vendors, hotels with less than 50 rooms, and all those struggling to earn a living in order to expand and create a livelihood for their families.
“I charge you that this responsibility comes with its own troubles, you have a choice to do that which is good and the selection of this team is based on your history, it’s based on your profile,” he said.
“The understanding of your closeness to God and that you will do that which is fair to all manners of people equally and fairly. We charge you to ensure that the poor masses of Cross River State and the small business owners do not come under the harsh hands of the desperate search for money by tax consultants.
“Your responsibility from today going forward is to put an end to illicit taxes on people. We have a tax law here that prescribes the people who are exempted from tax. All those categories of people and those that from time to time will be so announced by the Governor, including every single hotel that has less than 50 rooms in Calabar and the whole state, today are exempted from payment of taxes.
“We have exempted all Okada riders, taxi drivers airport taxi drivers, small saloon owners, small catering and restaurant points popularly called mama put. All those people who sell basic things struggling to earn a living, they have been exempted today from paying tax. We have exempted them because it is better for me as governor to rather task my brain, than to tax my people.”