The Trade Union Congress has advised Enugu State government to enforce the payment of taxes by businessmen and politicians in the state.
The labour group said wealthy businessmen and politicians in the state are not paying taxes.
TUC chairman in Enugu State, Comrade Chukwuma Igbokwe, who spoke to journalists after inaugurating the Enugu State executive committee of the Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools, explained that only civil servants are paying tax in Enugu.
The union leader urged the government to increase its revenue generation drive by going after businessmen and politicians.
He said, “We have written and advised the government on how to generate more revenue because we found out that the people that are paying tax in the state are the civil servants, because they (government) collect it (tax) at the source.
“Most politicians go for tax clearance only when they are going for election. If not for election, they won’t pay tax.
“Most business moguls in this state don’t pay tax. We have advised the government on this.
“We have so many hotels and eateries in this state, when these people pay their taxes properly, as at when due, the government will get money.
“The government should go after these businessmen who are not paying tax even though they are making so much money.
“If the civil servant that is on grade level one, step one, can pay tax, what about the man who spends more than N18,000 just to sit out and enjoy himself in the evening?
“They (businessmen) spend N18,000 on fish and drinks and other things but if you ask them for their tax certificates, you will notice that they are not paying tax, yet the lowly civil servant who earns that N18,000 as his entire pay package in a month is paying tax.”
“We have advised them on how to generate money for further development; we have also advised them on how to block leakages.
“We are saying that the state government should increase its revenue generation drive. In fact, there are some federal establishments here (in Enugu) that are not remitting to the government,” he added.
Igbokwe noted that the economy of Enugu State depends on the state’s civil servants.
“We have found out that the economy of the state is tied to payment of salaries to civil servants. The state’s economy is activated when salaries are paid.
“Once you pay salaries, you activate the economy of Enugu State and the spenders in this state are the civil servants.
“Talk of those who patronise the hotels and the eateries, they are the civil servants.
“Any month you don’t pay salaries, you will notice that the markets will not sell – there will be low patronage,” he observed.
The labour leader, in the same vein, noted that TUC was always ready to partner with Enugu State government.
He explained that the union preferred dialogue as a means of resolving labour disputes.
However, Igbokwe stressed that the labour unions would always resort to industrial action, including strike, when dialogue fails.
“Unionism is not about rascality – gone are the days when trade union members engaged in rascally behaviour, abusing people anyhow, in the course of agitating for their welfare.
“Now, it is about dialogue, with the government, with the management, with the employers.
“Strikes and other industrial actions should be the last resort, when dialogue fails.
“Trade unions should always embrace dialogue, put their cards on the table and if the government remains adamant, you can take any industrial action.”
Source: Punch newspaper