Charles Soludo, Anambra State governor, has suspended tax payments for heavy-duty loading and offloading in the transport sector.
Soludo also approved slashed weekly payments applicable to tricycles (keke), shuttle buses and other transport operators.
The governor made the announcement when he met transport operators, and other key stakeholders at the Prof. Dora Akunyili Women’s Development Center in Awka, on Wednesday, to brainstorm and agree on the new modalities.
Before the development, there had been a public outcry against heavy taxation in the state, especially amongst tricycle, shuttle bus and heavy-duty truck operators.
The situation had caused protests by the operators at various times across the length and breadth of the state, especially in the Onitsha areas.
But on Wednesday, the governor approved weekly payment of taxes and levies by commercial Keke and shuttle bus operators in the state which showed about a 30 per cent reduction.
With the latest development, Keke operators will now pay N10,000, reviewed from N15,000 which can be broken into four instalments of N2,500 per week; taxi operators will now pay N12,000 as against N17,500 amounting to N3,000 weekly, while shuttle buses will now pay N3,000 weekly.
Mini truck operators will now pay N3,750 weekly, while motorcycle operators will now pay N4,000, amounting to N1,000 weekly.
Soludo also suspended payment of tolls, taxes and levies by heavy-duty vehicle operators across the state.
The governor explained that while his team would go back to the drawing board, the move of suspending the payment was to ensure that nobody would be taxed twice.
He called on everyone to join hands with his administration to keep the state secure, clean, prosperous and liveable.
He assured them that his government is determined to institute a progressive tax system because APGA is a party for the common man.
He said, “This government will protect and promote the common man’s interests. To make the system more equitable, we are working on comprehensive tax reform.
“Tax collection from hawkers, wheelbarrow pushers, and vulcanizers is prohibited in Anambra State.
“As a progressive government, we are determined to ensure that the poor are not burdened by taxes and that the wealthy pay their fair share. The truth is that you are paying more than your fair share,” Governor Soludo emphasised.
“I understand what you’re going through; I feel and touch it, and that’s why we’re going all out to declare a total emergency on state roads to alleviate your suffering.”
“It is true that the government requires funds!” There is no such thing as a society that has developed without people paying taxes. Last year, Anambra’s total tax contribution as revenue was barely N20 billion, which is insufficient for the massive road construction we have begun, let alone other sectors.
“Nobody likes paying taxes, but we’ve started a tax revolution. Our main challenge is being harassed by touts and being taxed multiple times. “The vast majority of what you pay goes into private pockets and never reaches the government,” Governor Soludo explained.
“We called this meeting because some of the things we designed to work aren’t working as we intended.
“When we organised open bidding for concessions, we agreed that old prices would remain the same, but operators are complaining about price increases that are not part of the agreement, so it’s a major concern,” Governor Soludo said.
“We want unions, but only unions led by operators. This will be possible once your enumeration is complete. The government will come and supervise your election, after which you will be able to choose your chairman for a specific term. We want to do away with professional lifetime unions! Unions must be run by operators.”
Reacting to the development, a Keke operator, Sunday Onyemaechi, thanked the government for the downward review of the taxes.
He said, “We thank the governor for this gesture and pray that this is not a political consideration. Let them not increase the levies and taxes again after the elections next month.”