Byline: Victoria Effiong
Some civil society groups have named Stanley Nsemo, member representing Calabar Municipal in the Cross River State House of Assembly as the champion of tax equity. This was made known by the CSOs during an advocacy visit to the lawmaker in his residence in Calabar on Monday.
The group under the auspices of the Cross River State Tax Justice and Governance Platform (TJGP), include the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC) and the International Budget Partnership (IBP), among others.
Speaking during the visit, Chinedu Bassey, Programmes Manager, CISLAC, stated that the group was interested in ensuring tax fairness and transparency with a bias for the informal sector largely dominated by women.
“I must commend you for blazing the trail and ensuring your bills in the assembly address issues of multiple taxation and curb the excesses in tax administration that leads to the inhumane treatment of taxpayer in the state. A champion like you needs all the support you can get,” Mr. Bassey said.
The CSOs observed that there was a political will by the state government to get the tax policy in the state right but noting that a section of the political class, who do not have the interest of the people at heart, was opposing the tax reforms.
Responding, Mr. Nsemo expressed appreciation to the group for supporting his initiative to reform the tax system in the state.
“Ease of doing business is one out of my five-point agenda because it is a cardinal requirement for any society that wants to improve the lives of its citizens. I am elated that Calabar Municipality is a model in tax equity and has blazed the trail for other local government areas to follow,” he said.
Despite threats to his life, family and associates, Mr. Nsemo reiterated his commitment to continue the struggle. He, therefore, called on the media, trade unions, NGOs, CSOs, and all well-meaning persons in the state to also speak out in support of the cause.
Highlight of the advocacy visit was the presentation of an advocacy brief titled, “Promoting Fair Taxation and Service delivery in Cross River State,” by the Chairman of the state chapter of TJGP, William Itorok, to the lawmaker.
Mr. Itorok said the platform aims to forge a strategic partnership with him to achieve some recommended policies.
Another strong motivation for the visit was to tell him about the breech of the tax reduction order and the one-month tax suspension, meant to ameliorate the suffering caused by fuel subsidy removal.
Recall that on October 10, the state Governor, Bassey Out, had in a press release ordered the suspension of revenue collection in all revenue points in Calabar Municipality.
But a counter statement signed by the Head of Local Government Administration, Eke Ani, overturned the governor’s order, resulting in traders being forced to pay the suspended taxes.