By Ugochukwu Nwankwo (Umuahia)

The Above is the question in the mouths and minds of all Small Business owners in Abia State.

It is no longer news, that since the emergence of Dr Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, small business owners and artisans got a new lease of life.

From being the Chief marketer of Made in Abia products to championing their training and upgrade, through workshops, overseas trainings and introducing them to current trends, Governor Ikpeazu has been in the forefront of promoting and encouraging small businesses in Abia State.

And these efforts of the Governor is the reason why Abia State has remained calm and peaceful as many youths are encouraged to embrace entrepreneurship, thereby even creating jobs for their fellow youths.

Unfortunately and if urgent measures are not taking these efforts will go down the drain as small businesses will suffocate, wither and die gradually due to the very high, double taxations, and humongous sums artisans are forced to cough out to quench the ever voracious appetite of Abia Board of Internal revenue under the leadership of Mr Celestine Agbara.

Granted, the policy of intergrating all taxes in a singular demand notice and collected by Abia BIR is a great idea and will help curb the excesses of agents and thugs, yet Abia BIR has in recent times become worse than the thugs artisans contended with in times past.

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A cursory look at Abia BIR demand notice to small businesses and Artisans will reveal a calculated attempt to shut down these small businesses as the taxes are cut throat and draconic!

Let’s take a look at them one after the other:

  1. EDUCATION TRUST FUND-CORPORATE BODIES ORGANIZED GROUP 2021= N6000

(Please can Oga Celestine Agbara enlighten the reading public what this tax small businesses are forced to pay is meant for. Me I can’t make any meaning out of it).

  1. RENEWAL OF COMPLIANCE CERTIFICATE = N5000

(Compliance to what exactly? Abia artisans and small businesses would want to know what this tax is meant for).

  1. INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT LEVY = N4000

(From the little we know about this particular tax, it is a tax meant for landlords and not tenants. When did PPIDF began taxing small businesses? Do they tax house owners and also tax small business who pay rent?).

  1. ABSAA RENEWAL OF PERMITS FEE = N8,540

(For a 1 × 6 flex banner pasted on the wall)

  1. RENEWAL OF BUSINESS PREMISES = 4000

(2020/2021, Not minding if the trader has paid 2020, if you misplace your 2020 receipt, you are forced to pay again…)

  1. MARKET STALLS/SHOPS AND ARTISANS SANITATION FEE = N12,000

(2020/2021, If you misplace your 2020 receipt you pay again. So all Small businesses in Abia State must pay N6,000 to the coffers of Abia BIR and we still live with the mountains of refuse everywhere – story for another day)

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When you sum it up, you have a total of N39,540 and that is approximately N40,000!

That is what a small business owner MUST part with if he must stay in business, that is besides his monthly rent, estimated EEDC monthly bills, salaries and other bills!

Can you imagine that?

At a time when we are just coming out of COVID-19 lock downs which crippled many Businesses?

In the face of incessant stay at home orders due to insecurity?

When the world over small businesses are receiving incentives and palliatives, even homes and families are receiving support from the government!

Whereas in Abia Celestine Agbara and his men are on the prowl with security men, harrasing and intimidating small businesses, issuing court summons and threatening fire and brimstone.

Let it be known that we raised this alarm.

If we continue the way we are going and the few young men and women who summoned courage to go into entrepreneurship are arm twisted into closing shop, what we see today as house burgling, armed robbery, assassination, thuggery and holiganism will be child’s play compared to what is to come!

I beseech Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to call Mr Celestine Agbara and his men to order!

A stitch in time saves nine!

Ugochukwu Nwankwo Writes from Abia State!

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