Of NDDC And Tax Evasion

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The economic well being of any modern society and its citizenry largely depends on tax. Payment of taxes by the citizens and corporate bodies therefore contributes significantly to the overall development of any society.
It is, therefore, irresponsible for any individuals or corporate organisations to evade tax. Evasion of tax is tantamount to theft, and should be condemned by every right-thinking citizen.
Particularly worrisome is when corporate bodies that should take the lead take laws into their hands by defaulting from paying legally recognised taxes and levies due the host government.
It is against this backdrop that The Tide condemns the failure of the management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to remit N1.8 billion withholding tax into the coffers of the Rivers State Government, leading to the shutting of its corporate headquarters in Port Harcourt, last week.
While sealing off the NDDC office, the state Internal Revenue Board (RSIRB) said it was compelled to obtain an order from the court to enforce the closure of the corporate headquarters of the NDDC after several years of unfruitful efforts to get the Federal Government’s agency meet its statutory financial responsibility to the state government.
Leader of the revenue board’s enforcement team, Nderibo Manson disclosed that the NDDC management had been recalcitrant by not allowing the state government’s internal revenue agents access to its books to authenticate the actual amount owed the state government since 2014 till date.
The team leader said, “We made frantic efforts in the past to collect revenue from NDDC, but our effort had not yielded the desired results. Hence, we have no option than to seal off the place”.
The Tide views the action of the NDDC as not only unfortunate but criminal and targeted at slowing down the fast pace of development the State is currently witnessing under Governor Nyesom Wike’s administration within the last three years.
We note with dismay that the NDDC and its workers are also beneficiaries of the state government’s development programmes and services and, therefore, needed not to be reminded to fulfill its statutory responsibilities to the state government, particularly in the remittance of withholding taxes.
There is no gainsaying the fact that authorities of the NDDC, as it is presently constituted has, by this singular act of tax evasion, demonstrated anything short of exhibiting responsibility to its corporate obligation. The sealing off was completely avoidable if the commission had done the needful by remitting its taxes as at when due.
Even more worrisome is the fact that some financial institutions such as banks were also sealed off for default.
While we also believe that the NDDC may not be the only defaulting organisation in the remittance of withholding taxes due the state government, we call on the state government’s revenue agency to intensify efforts at bringing all defaulters to book even if it means prosecuting officials of such organisations.
We recall that some private schools in the State were also sealed off in the past due to their refusal to remit taxes to the state government. We wonder if there is a fifth columnist that is behind these bodies to sabotage Wike’s administration. This act of deliberate evasion of taxes in Rivers State must, therefore, be put to an end. This is condemnable and should not be condoned.
These actions by the erring organisations and agencies are inimical to the well being of the state as they militate against the developmental efforts of the state government. This ugly development must stop forthwith.
We, therefore, urge the State Internal Revenue Service to fish out all recalcitrant companies and corporate bodies who fall short of remitting taxes due the state government and institute appropriate actions against them to serve as deterrent to others.
Such bodies or organisations, whether corporate or private, should not be allowed to constitute themselves as cogs in the wheels of progress of Rivers State.
We also implore the management of the NDDC to see itself as partners in progress by ensuring quick and immediate remittance of all withholding taxes to avoid the embarrassment of having its office being shut.