Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State burst into tears on Thursday as he lamented the tax burden on low-income earners in the state.
“This is not Ben Ayade, this is not my nature,” the Governor said. “I am not wired for this insensitivity to a weaker person. I never knew that five years into office as Governor, I will still find someone living in a thatched house in Cross River.”
The Governor thereafter inaugurated an anti-tax agency designed to abolish payment of taxes by low-income earners as part of the state’s COVID-19 palliative measures.
According to Ayade, the tax exemption is aimed at encouraging small and medium scale businesses, peasant farmers, commercial transport operators, food vendors, hotels with less than 50 rooms, and all those struggling to earn a living in order to expand and create a livelihood for their families.
Speaking at the Government House in Calabar on Thursday, Ayade frowned at the activities of illegal tax consultants who extort money from the poor and vulnerable, a practice he said discourages the establishment and expansion of infant industries.
Governor Ayade said he is not interested in generating income from all sources as he further charged the members of the newly inaugurated Agency, who are all religious leaders, to take their assignment seriously by vindicating the poor and Vulnerable from paying tax.
The Chairman of the Agency, Bishop Emma Isong assured the public that the Agency will spread its tentacles across the 18 Local Governments of the state with all levels of fairness and equity in order to commercialize the state and encourage businesses.