Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State has called on the Federal Government to compel federal agencies and establishments in the state to pay over N14 billion taxes owed the state government.
The governor made the call yesterday in his address as the Federal Ministry of Finance flagged off the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) campaign, in Enugu.
Governir Ugwuanyi said that all efforts made by his administration to recover the debts have proved unsuccessful even when the state government has continued to provide infrastructure and other ancillary services to the agencies.
He disclosed that his administration has spent over N40 billion in roads construction, while N2.7 billion has been spent in rehabilitation of federal roads in the state despite the dwindling economy of the country.
Also speaking on the occasion, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, called on wealthy Nigerians to take advantage of the VAIDS period to regularise their tax status to avoid ugly consequences.
According to her, VAIDS was conceived to allow Nigerian companies and individuals to do what was “right for the country, right for Enugu State and right for one another.
Her words, “From our records, there seems to be a few big men and big women from this part of the country, who may need to think very carefully about making a VAIDS declaration. We have been compiling data on property, bank accounts, share holdings and other sources that suggest that many people have not been paying the right taxes.
VAIDS is an opportunity to regularise,” she stated. The minister added that huge sums of money have been moved out of Nigeria without the owners paying a kobo in tax.
Mrs. Adeosun warned that who have moved money out of the country without paying taxes would be fished out.
“The good news for government, which is bad news for the tax evaders, is that globally, nations have agreed to share data under the Automatic Exchange of Information. This means that sitting at our desks in Abuja, we are getting information about assets that the owners thought were well hidden from the tax authorities.
“As you know, Nigerians are entitled to keep their wealth anywhere in the world, including under their mattress, but what the law requires is that they pay tax on their income as they earn it,” the minister said.
Daily Sun reports that the scheme, which provides a time-limit for tax defaulters to declare their indebtedness, ends on March 31 as those who declared will be free of tax audits, payment of interests and penalties on owed taxes as well as prosecution while those who failed to declare at the expiration of the window will attract severe penalties and prosecution. The Sun