The governor of Rivers State has threatened that the state government will shut down the premises of any bank or business organisation in the state that continues to pay Value Added Tax (TAX) to the federal government through the Federal Inland Revenue Service. (FIRS).
The governor stated this in Port Harcourt on Wednesday during an interactive session with corporate organizations in the state.
He lamented that the federal government has purposely turned the states into beggars, by making them congregate regularly in Abuja to beg for funds, instead of utilizing their potentials to develop their respective states.
The warning from Wike again brings to the fore, the ongoing cold war between the FIRS and the Rivers State Government over which authority has the right to collect VAT.
Wike gave the warning while reacting to a Federal High Court ruling, which dismissed FIRS’ move to stop the state government from collecting Valued Added Tax (VAT) pending the determination of the matter in court.
In a reiteration of his earlier statement, the Governor implored the organisations and businesses to pay their taxes to the coffers of the state government in order to ensure the revamp of infrastructure and crucial sectors for economic boom.
“What we are doing is not against the law and it is obvious for everyone to see. In September, a lot of projects are earmarked to be commissioned. Kindly pay your taxes.
“The payment of taxes will ensure the revamp of critical infrastructure and we are waiting for the court ruling with FIRS before the next step,” the Governor said.
In order to ensure strict adherence to tax payments, the Governor warned against defaulting while urging organisations to jettison imminent threats from the FIRS.
“Rivers state will not hesitate to apply sanctions in line with the VAT laws to defaulting organisations. This is part of giving governance a human face.
“The court reveals that until there is a reverse, the state has the wherewithal to collect taxes.
“Let nobody threaten you. FIRS will issue threats but don’t waver in your responsibilities,” the governor concluded.
He also lamented that some states were being timid to do the right thing because of threats from the federal government, and that the states’ executives were being deceived to believe that they would be at the receiving end if states are allowed to collect VAT.
Wike noted that the issue was a legal and constitutional one, and should not be viewed as politics, or based on political parties.
He revealed that the Federal government having realised it’s error of collecting VAT illegally had quietly written to the National Assembly through the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to amend the Constitution by including the VAT issue on the exclusive list, even while the matter was still in court.