(By Iheanyi Ezinwo) – As the battle by states to take over the control of the collection of value added tax, VAT, gathers momentum, it has been observed that the emerging regime will drive states to look inwards with a view to generating revenue in their areas that they have comparative advantage.
This observation was made by Prince Charles Beke, former chairman of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Rivers and Bayelsa States chapter, in a chat with Notable Outcome in Port Harcourt on Sunday. According to the industrialist, “collection of VAT by states will drive states to think of how to generate resources. It will also encourage competition, drive creativity, innovation and cooperation among states, as well as promote self reliance.
“ States that are not generating and contributing anything should put on their thinking caps. Those who are encouraging states to keep depending on handouts from the centre are encouraging laziness. Governors who look inwards and provide an enabling environment for business in in their states will attract investors and become economically independent.
“Those who are asking other states to be their brothers keeper should do what those who are generating money from VAT are doing. Besides, all the states of the federation have been sharing from crude oil that is produced in few states, they too should think of what to contribute to the general purse for others to share from. We are entering the contribution era: every one should be thinking of what to contribute to the centre in order to make Nigeria greater, and not only what to collect”.
Responding to a question, Prince Beke, who is the managing director of Eastern Wrought Iron Limited, a Port Harcourt based company that produces furniture for schools, hotels, hospitals and homes, said he was over joyed by the courage of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State to match his words with action on the campaign for restructuring in Nigeria.
“ To be candid, I will say that I felt excited that the injustices that people have been crying against are being exposed, and that there is a new way to address them. I am glad that the demand for restructuring can be achieved through the judiciary. I commend the Rivers State Governor, Barr. Ezenwo Nyesom Wike for proving that he is a good lawyer, and that he is fearless even as a minority in the midst of the majority.
“The emergent revelation is a challenge for every Nigerian to look inwards to see how to bring about change that will advance the course of national development. The governors and others in leadership must wear their thinking caps, to see how they can generate money for their states.
“That is why it will be good for the states to be autonomous. States should diversify and stop depending on handouts from the centre. When they don’t give you resources, you think of how to generate resources from within. This fight is not that of Rivers State per se, but for a greater Nigeria where every one will contribute to increase the size of the national cake.
“There are a lot of irregular practices in this country, and some of them are perpetrated in the name of Federal Character. You also have NESRA and other agencies of the federal government that collect money from the states, resulting in multiple taxation and choking of businesses.
“These monies are collected from states, taken to Abuja and shared to everybody whereas the consequences of pollution like in the case of NESRA, who collect pollution charges, are suffered by the particular state where the pollution take place.
“ Ordinarily taxes on such localized incidences like pollution should be collected by the states where they happen. What Governor Wike has done is a step towards tax harmonization, and it will advance the course of development in Nigeria”, Prince Charles Beke summed.