In its bid to deliver on its promised 5-point interventions comprising human capacity development, agriculture, education, health and education to the people of the State capital, the leadership of Uyo Local Government is set to enact new bye-laws for the collection of taxes from business operators within the capital city.
This was the crux of the public hearing on Bills under consideration by the Uyo Legislative Council for development-based byelaws in the Local Government Area held on Tuesday, January 26, at the Local Government Council Hall in Uyo.
The Bills, numbering 17, which cuts across the economic and social activities in Uyo Local Government Area include: A Bill for a byelaw for Bicycles/Trucks/Wheel barrow and Carts licensing; A Bill for a byelaw for Restaurants, Bakeries, Sale of food premises regulation; A Bill for a byelaw for Wrong Parking (prohibition); A Bill for a byelaw for shops and kiosks/licensing fee; A Bill for a byelaw for Liquor License; A Bill for a byelaw for Hawking and Street trading permit, A Bill for a Byelaw for Tenement Rates; A Bill for a byelaw for naming roads/streets, and 9 others.
Speaking at the occasion, Chairman of the Local Government Area, Dr. Uwemedimo Udo noted that there was no way the Local Government would effectively discharge most of its obligations if it fails to look inward to see what can be generated from within it.
“There is no way we can depend on federation account for every of our need that is why we thought it wise to look into our books and see where we can make marginal revision in terms of accruals to us to help us in the discharge of our responsibilities to the people of Uyo”, he said.
While calling on tenants and indigenous business operators to see the need to contribute their proceeds to the development of the area, Dr. Udo stressed that revenue collection is not punitive.
“It is a civic obligation meant for everyone to play a role in the development of the society. It is a collective task, not a punishment. All over the world, we have all the taxes where Local Governments all over Nigeria can draw from and improve their revenue base”, he informed.
The Council Boss who expressed confidence that the Bills under consideration would in no time become a bye-law, assured strongly that the revenue generated would be judiciously utilized.
“The LG administration under my leadership will make the best use of whatever will come out of the revenue in Uyo LG. We will use it to better the lots of our people”, he maintained, adding that the ongoing construction of the administrative building was an evidence of the judicious application of the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the council.
Earlier in his remarks, leader of the 7th Legislative Council of Uyo Local Government, Hon. Ubong Effiong, stated that the Local Government was prepared to give back to the people the development they have craven over the years. He therefore charged those concerned to co-operate with the Local Government by obliging their civic responsibilities.
“Uyo as a city needs development; revenue generation in Local Government Councils in Nigeria is principally derived from Taxes/Rates…imposed by Government on individuals and companies for the various legitimate functions of the Local Government. Great nations of the world and advanced Societies generate taxes for the vital developmental needs of its people. This is well known across all the continents of the world”, he expressed, while reiterating that the capacity of Local Governments to generate revenue internally was one of the very crucial consideration for the creation of the Local Councils in Nigeria.
Contributing to the 17 Bills presented, Chairman of the Civil Liberties Organization in Akwa Ibom State, Otuekong Franklyn Isong commended the efforts of the 7th legislative council in ensuring that the bye-laws are domesticated to see how they can generate revenue for the growth of the local government, while suing for the addition of a means of enforcement in the byelaw.
He however warned against multiple taxations using different sub heads, stating that the law frowned at such.
“The law frowns at double taxation using another name, and some of these taxes are already being collected, this has to be checkmated to avoid friction”, he advised.
Isong who was represented by the State Secretary of Legal Matters for the Civil Liberties Organization, Barr. Eyibio Okon also charged the Local Government on the need to advertise their need for revenue, using fundamental developmental projects.
“Using the little you have or generate in doing things for the community is the best form of advertorial. This will spur the people towards compliance with the payment of necessary taxes. Uyo Local Government should begin to extend these developmental strides to the hinterlands and make them known across the media”, he proffered.
Another Stakeholder who responded to the Bills presented, called for the inclusion of a bill to combat insecurity and improve the safety of business premises, lives and properties in the Local Government, noting that insecurity has become a cause for concern in the area lately.
Meanwhile, the Head of Revenue Service of the Local Government, Mr. Samuel Akpan called for the intervention of the 7th Assembly in the utilization of revenue collected.
“We are suffering because almost all the revenue we collect is given to the State Government. Please help us, we are dying in silence”, he lamented.
The Public hearing had in attendance concerned stakeholders, Corporate Bodies, Operators of Businesses, Seasoned Technocrats/Administrators, Members of The Executive and Legislative Arm of Uyo Local Government Council, Directors and Staff of the National Union of Local Government Employee (NULGE) and Members of the Public.