The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, has expressed delight at the impressive pace of development in Enugu State, attributing the stride to the focused leadership of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and his prudent management of the state’s meagre resources to address the basic needs of the people.
Mrs. Adeosun, who described Governor Ugwuanyi as a “brave” leader, noted that the governor has done very well in growing the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) “transparently” and has also ensured that the revenues collected are utilised for the development of the state.
The finance minister spoke at the launch of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) in Enugu, which offer taxpayers an opportunity, within a limited time, to regularise their tax status relating to previous tax periods.
She emphasised the need for the development of taxes that will assist states and the country achieve their potentials and vision for the people, stressing that “with regular taxes, we will avoid the pain that the recent collapse in oil prices and the consequent recession inflicted on Nigerians.”
Mrs. Adeosun also commended Gov. Ugwuanyi for the massive road projects in the state, especially his administration’s intervention on federal roads such as the 9th Mile-Ngwo- Miliken Hill-New Market road, adding that “Enugu State is one of the states where a lot is going on”.
The minister disclosed that the federal government has recognised that infrastructure is the key to job creation, growth and wealth, stressing that “payment of taxes is a fundamental requirement for our growth story”.
She said: “We have already released N1.2 trillion in capital so far for the 2017 budget, which commenced in June and most of this was applied to roads, bridges, rails, power, our airports and other key infrastructural projects.”
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary of Joint Tax Board, Oseni Elamah, who applauded the finance minister for initiating the scheme, also commended Governor Ugwuanyi for his giant strides in Enugu State.
Describing Mr. Ugwuanyi as a “digital governor,” Mr. Elamah said that the governor has been able to manage the resources of the state in a transparent manner that has added value to the lives of the people, wondering how he has been able to achieve such remarkable feats with the meagre income of the state.
“The governor (Ugwuanyi) is doing it in a digital way, because we all know that Enugu State is not one of the oil producing states, it is among the states that get the least federal allocation. We wonder where the governor gets the resources to do all that he is doing”, the Executive Secretary said.
In his address, Mr. Ugwuanyi while appreciating the minister for her resourcefulness, dynamism and commitment, which he said saw to the establishment of the scheme, disclosed that his administration, despite daunting economic constraints, has through prudent management and application of its meagre resources, made substantial progress in actualising its set objectives for the benefit of the people.
The governor stated that the government while creating job opportunities for the people through agriculture, entrepreneurship and investments, has also actively increased the tempo of infrastructural development especially in the rural areas; built capacity and remained regular in the payment of civil servants’ salaries and pensions.
He added that the state government has spent over N40 billion on the construction/rehabilitation of about 240km of roads across the three senatorial zones of the state between 2015 and this year, disclosing that “about N2.7 billion of the sum was spent on the rehabilitation/reconstruction of some federal roads including sections of the 9th Mile- Udi – Oji River – Ugwuoba – Anambra State border; sections of the 9th mile – Opi Expressway and the 9th Mile-Ngwo-Miliken-New Market road”.
Mr. Ugwuanyi further stated that the far reaching reforms initiated by his administration saw to the significant increase of the state’s IGR to “an all-time high of N22 billion at the close of 2017 in contrast to the N14 billion that we collected in the whole of 2016 fiscal year”, regretting that federal institutions in Enugu were owing the state government over N14 billion in unpaid taxes.
While requesting for the minister’s intervention on the payment of the outstanding tax debts owed by the federal agencies, Mr. Ugwuanyi enjoined “all Tax payers in Nigeria, but more particularly in Enugu State, to participate actively in VAIDS especially when it offers citizens the opportunity to regularise their tax status and avoid prosecution or investigation for tax-related offences”.
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