Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Abia State Government, Thursday, embarked on the sealing of many business premises for defaulting in tax payment.
The defaulting businesses including fast food joints, drinking bars, supermarkets, rentals, among others, were owing from four to two years.
One of the defaulters was owing N650,400 according to a court order pasted on its entrance gate by officials of the Board of Internal Revenue, BIR. The amount covered for 2021-2022.
In an interview with newsmen after the enforcement exercise, leader of the task-force, and the Officer in charge of Compliance and Enforcement, Mr Francis Emeruwa, said the action became necessary following the refusal of the owners of the affected businesses to honour various demand notices and invitations for dialogue by the Board.
Emeruwa explained that BIR was only after tax defaulters from 2022 backwards, adding that the enforcement does not affect 2023 as the year is yet to run out.
He, however, noted with displeasure, the nonchalance of business operators to pay tax, saying that such unpatriotic spirit does not encourage development.
“People don’t voluntarily come to pay their taxes. So, we have to use approaches backed by law to enforce compliance.
“Some of them have been owing since 2018, some since 2019. We invited them but they refused to come. We followed due process. We went to court and obtained court order after they ignored several invitations.”
He said that the current administration in the state had demonstrated care and commitment to work for the people, hence the need for people to reciprocate the various developmental strides of Government by paying their taxes.
Emeruwa, said that the BIR Management led by Professor Udochukwu Ogbonna, was committed to improving the Internally Generated Revenue of the state, and to judiciously account for every revenue generated.
He said that the BIR boss under whose watch the state’s IGR witnessed a leap, was still ready to replicate the feat, and complement the efforts of Gov. Alex Otti-led administration in moving the state forward.
Emeruwa , who noted with concern that many tax payers in the state “are defaulting,” urged them to pay up to enable Government discharge its responsibilities to the citizenry.
The enforcement team was escorted by heavily armed police personnel.