Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has decried the negative effect of the economy, which has made it almost impossible to tax eligible Nigerians.
Okowa spoke yesterday with journalists after a meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the State House in Abuja.
He said although his administration is doing as much as it could to grow the number of youth entrepreneur in the state, so as to bring more people into the tax bracket, he said government is being sensitive to the economic plight of citizens so as not to make living difficult for many.
According to him, the harsh effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy destroyed many businesses and has made it impossible to impose necessary taxes.
He said: “We are doing quite a lot; trying to get my people into the tax bracket; then we are also very mindful of the fact that if you look into the general populace, the economy is such that a lot of people are being strangulated. To that extent, you are careful so that you don’t overtax the entire populace and therefore further dig down on the economy and cause a situation where many families are not able to feed.
“All the same, we try to bring a lot into the tax net; we are trying to be very responsible in our approach to that. Because of the COVID-19, 2020 actually destroyed a lot of businesses. We are also doing a lot of things to try to support some of those businesses; we are also growing a lot of youth entrepreneurs in the state through various programmes; so those ones can come in into tax bracket. We hope that in that in the midst of the two, we still stay very much afloat; so, we hope that there will be a little growth in our IGR, but not as much we expected because of the impact of the COVID-19”.
On government’s efforts to vaccinate Nigerians against COVID-19, Okowa emphasised the need for more enlightenment to defuse the effects negative campaigns against vaccination, which he said has been reinforcing hesitancy among the people.
He assured Nigerians that the AstraZeneca vaccine is, as well as the other products, are safe and effective against the virus, soliciting collaboration between the federal and state governments as well as the communities and other stakeholders in the fight against the spread of the virus in the country.
“Yeah, it worked well, you realise that out of four million, about 3.9 million doses of Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine was distributed; we got just about 95,000 doses as a state; that has been fully utilized; both in the first and the second dose.
“Actually, in the country, they have done well, but there is no doubt that as we entered into the second doses, as a result of the anti-vaccine campaign, the kind of messages they pass out, a lot of people started having some level of hesitancy, but of all of the doses we have in state were taken up; and across, the nation.
“As of the last meeting we had last week Thursday, I chaired the NEC sub-committee interfacing with the Presidential Steering Committee; we didn’t really lose anything; as of that Thursday, one will say few days for it expire, we had only nine vials; so that means we are not going to lose anything.
But we have to up the campaign as we are expecting many more vaccines at the end of July, first week of August; which is going to run into a few more millions; so we just have to keep the campaign going”, the governor said.