The Parliament Diary

By: Atibile Williams.

The Acting Chairman, Cross River state Internal Revenue Service, Edwin Okon Thursday in Calabar revealed that miscreants parading as local government revenue agents are responsible for multiple taxation experienced in the state. To block such revenue leakages, the service terminated underperforming agents with a view to raising the bar from paltry two billion as currently generated to minimum of five billion naira monthly in order to fast track salary payments and other recurrent expenditures.

The IRS boss and his management team stated these and more during a courtesy visit to the speaker, Cross River state House of Assembly, RT. Hon. Elvert Ayambem in his office. Mr. Edwin seized opportunity of the visit to seek expedition of pending IRS bills before the House from previous dispensation which according to him will revolutionalize the service conducts ones passed into law.
He added that the state Internal Revenue Service have designated places for ease of payment of taxes and other levies for enhanced accountability. In his words

“The issues around multiple taxation that we hear are not from internal revenue service but from miscreants. Persons who doesn’t have the authority to collect such revenue sleeps on the road in the guise of local governments IRS agents.
From Obanliku to Bakassi, you see a lot of illegal revenue checkpoints. One thing we will do as a service is to involve the security agencies and parliamentarians to make sure we take out these illegal revenue checkpoints.

“We are going to have designated revenue points that every tax payers, motorists and others can pay their genuine taxes that will get to the government. Our focus is to give those points to experienced consultants devoid of interference.

“As we speak, on the average the state makes about two billion naira a month internally. Our focus is to take it higher to a minimum of five billion naira monthly to be able to pay salaries and other recurrent expenditures.
On that note, we need the support of all the members and persons involved in this process so that we improve on internally generated revenue of the state.

“In Cross River state, the functions of vehicle administration is managed by transport management and regulatory agencies which is an outdated law that was set up in 2021. It is only in Cross River state that the function is not been handled by internal revenue service. All over the federation, issues around vehicle licensing, plate numbers and others are managed by internal revenue service.
Through legislations, that key element of revenue generation will come to us which will help us in achieving our revenue targets for the year.”

On pending IRS bills before the Assembly, Mr Okon says

“We have some of our bills that are pending in the House from previous administration. Help us look at those bills including amendments that will be sent to you. Assist us and also assist the government in ensuring we block all the loop holes of illegal checkpoints. We pledge to continue to work with you in making Cross River state better.” He said

In his response, RT. Hon. Elvert Ayambem assured the state revenue service of utmost supports in decoupling the state from underdevelopment occasioned by poor revenue generation. He lamented over leakages in the state revenue citing ceding of Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon and lost of 76 oil wells to neighboring Akwa-Ibom state which rendered Cross River economically bankrupt. He warned the service to stay above nepotism and compromise that will jeopardize the existential purpose for her creation. RT. Hon. Elvert added that when such unpatriotic nuisances are not addressed headon, the populace suffer the brunt.

On MDAs handling internal revenue generation, the lawmaker frowned at it stressing that MDAs should function as intended while all matters of revenue generation be handled by internal revenue service of the state. According to him

“There’s been leakages in our revenue generation. We are going to legislate strongly to ensure that we improve on our revenue generation. We have lost so much already as a state ranging from ceding of Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon down to 76 oil wells forfeited to neighboring Akwa-Ibom state which reduced us to toddlers in terms of revenue generation.
No matter who is handling any agency, avoid compromise by prioritizing interest of the state.

“We may just wake and not have Cross River state again if we don’t tightened the loss end of corruption associated to revenue leakages. We should be conscious of value adding against dropping the standard.
The pension Contributory scheme has a down payment done by state governments. If the internal revenue is not adequately generated, how can the state government meet up with the expected down payment?

“This is a call to duty that requires all hands to be on the plough to ensure the internal revenue generation of this state is topnotch. He stated.

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