The Ebonyi State APC gubernatorial candidate in the coming election, Senator Sonni Ogbuoji has promised to revamp the economy of the state through a positive and productive approach as against what he called the negative economics of the administration of Governor David Umahi.
Ogbuoji made this known on Monday when he released his manifesto to the public. He lamented that whereas the state had hit a double digit internal revenue in 2014, prior to Umahi coming to power, the state had been bedeviled by poor revenue generation.
‘What is most surprising is that the state under Umahi introduced very high tax regime with a wrong intention of shoring up revenue only to have it crash tremendously.
Because I understand this approach can never pay, from Umahi;s evidence, I will return the state to winning ways and internal revenue prosperity by pursuing a tax policy that is friendly, payable and encourages investment, even at the smallest scale level.’
A stark reality of his argument is that; ‘The 2018-second quarter report of the National Bureau of Statistics puts the half year Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of Ebonyi State at NGN 2,463,958,566.01. Also, in 2017 and 2016, the IGR of Ebonyi State was NGN 5,102,902,366.82 and NGN 2,342,092,225.07 respectively. To put this in perspective, although in 2015, when the current administration came into power, there was no record of our IGR, in 2014 the IGR of our dear state was NGN 11,032,472,512.00. It is important to note that at no point in our history as a state have the residents of our state been so burdened with taxes as under the current administration. However, for some reasons, despite the increased taxes we have recorded less revenue.
‘We have seen companies that used to operate in Ebonyi relocate, including the Nigerian Bottling Company, owners of Coca-Cola. We lost the revenue they used to earn is even when they still sell their products here from outside the state. Last year, it was scandalous that when the Nigerian Breweries staged an exhibition at the Abakaliki Stadium their show was disrupted and the experience scared them away.
Many small scale businesses have shut down while house rents are no longer affordable to the average person, even those same workers that Umahi has paid half salary in the past four years. They have to endure higher rent because their landlords pay more in tenement rate.’
Ogbuoji enumerated seven channels through which he would tackle the economic challenge and turn Ebonyi around into prosperity.
‘My administration will attract more businesses and industries to the state. We will do this by improving the ease of doing business in the state. My government will ensure that an application for governor’s consent for land will be responded to within a maximum of five working days; require our civil servants to respond to any business query within 48 working hours; explore tax breaks for new businesses that wish to commence operations in our state; partner with the private sector to offer finance by way of equity, grants and soft loans to entrepreneurs as start-up capital and working capital; partner with the state assembly to enact enabling laws, create agencies and/or departments for investment promotion; publish a regular guide for the Ebonyi investor or intending investor; host an Ebonyi Investment Summit, regularly, to showcase the economic potentials of the state to the world; etc.
‘In addition, we will make it a duty to revive the Abakaliki rice mill to full operations and enhance the new outlets built by the Elechi’s government. We will put the Nigercem back into optimum operation and also give BUA, and other companies like it, the necessary support to build cement factories within the shortest possible time.’
We have other local resources that shall be tapped into for economic revival, he said