Residents of Calabar have expressed mixed reactions to the pronouncement by Governor Ben Ayade to exempt low income earners in Cross River from payment of taxes and levies.
Some of the residents spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria in separate interviews in Calabar.
Joseph Ewa, the Chairman of Tricycle Owners/Drivers Association of Nigeria, Cross River chapter, said that his members were still paying various levies to different government agents.
“We have been waiting for the implementation of this directive but nothing is happening till now. They are still harassing us daily as usual.
“Everything remains the same. We are waiting for the governor to come back from his journey and then we will ask him to explain to us who benefits from this law.”
According to him, the governor’s directive concerns tricycle drivers, taxi drivers and even bean cake (akara) seller.
“I heard the governor mention “keke’’ tricycle driver during his speech, so we have to find out in due course what is happening,” he said.
A taxi driver, Udeme Simon, said that rather than exemption, they were now paying more.
“Look at my receipts, where we used to pay N200 before, it is now N450; so we only heard that pronouncement but it has not impacted on us in any way,” he said.
A civil servant, Catherine Henshaw, said that she could not confirm if deductions were made on her salary because she was yet to be paid for January.
“I heard that too, but I am yet to receive my January salary to know if anything has changed,” she said.
However, an official of the State Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said on condition of anonymity that the directive was yet to be implemented as it had to pass through some processes.
“As I speak with you, we have not started implementing the directive. And again, the exemption does not affect every low income earners on the street.
“It is only meant for those that are recognisable like the state civil servants. The idea is that, the governor will pay for them,” he said.
The governor had in his maiden media briefing said he had forwarded a bill to exempt all low income earners in the state from payment of all forms of taxes and levies to the State House of Assembly.
He reiterated the pronouncement, while signing this year’s budget two weeks ago in Calabar.