The Cross River State government has reviewed its 2020 budget as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
The state finance commissioner, Mr Asuquo Ekpenyong, who disclosed this to newsmen in Calabar on Monday, said the revised budget of the state which has been sent to the state assembly for approval is N147, 130, 166, 966.00 as against the earlier estimates of N1,100,168,507,687.94.
Ekpenyong said: “Cross River State government has reviewed the 2020 budget with inputs from stakeholders and the amended budget figure of N147, 130, 166, 966.00 has been submitted to the assembly.
“We took into consideration the downward revenues, statutory allocation and the and the increase in non-primary capital expenditure particularly the Covid 19 intervention which will gulp 16.3% of the new estimates”, he said.
He added that as part of the COVID-19 relief, government will expand tax exemption to a wide segment of the state to boost the economy, warning that it is a criminal offence for anyone to go against government policy.
“There is a human angle as well as an economic angle to this policy. The logic is to abate the suffering and hardship occasioned by the pandemic to ensure that businesses have a disposable income.
“If anyone is given an assessment when he has been exempted, the attention of government should be drawn to this and such would be treated as a robbery and crime”, he said.
Also speaking, the chairman of the Cross River State Internal Revenue Service, Mr Akpanke Ogar, said individuals in the public sector earning below N100,000 monthly are eligible for tax exemption under the PAYE Scheme.
Others include self employed persons, taxi drivers, artisans, restaurants and others under the presumptive tax regime.
On his part, the Chairman of the Calabar Chamber of Commerce, Mines and Industry, Mr Eta Ndoma Egba, said the government’s tax policy saying it’s a step in the right direction.
He called on the government to put measures in place to enforce the policy and also curb revenue leakages to the barest minimum for the overall benefit of the state.