From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki has expressed the readiness of his administration to partner with Edo workers to expand the tax net in the state following the dwindling revenue from Abuja.
Addressing workers at the celebration of 2021 Workers’ Day, with the theme: “COVID-19, Social and Economic Crisis: Challenges for jobs, social protection and people’s welfare”, Governor Obaseki said that it is unfair for only Edo State workers to pay tax.
Obaseki said the people of Edo are the greatest assets of the government.
He noted that his administration will love to do more for the people and the workers but the ability to do more depends on the ability to expand the tax net getting more people to pay taxes.
He added that this will enable the government generate more revenue to sustain decent jobs and provide social protection for the people of the State.
‘It’s unfair for only workers to be paying taxes as out of the almost two million eligible tax payers in Edo, its not more than 200,000 people paying taxes.
‘With the dwindling revenue from Abuja, how can we continue to do what we are doing in Edo if people do not contribute their quota through taxation to support the state government.
‘I urge Edo State workers to collaborate with Government to enlighten the citizens, and encourage them to pay taxes.
‘We are calling on workers to help us take the message out that everyone in Edo should now pay something. Without taxation revenues, the State will not be able to discharge its responsibility. Government will be able to do more only if the people pay their taxes.
‘We must bring in as many eligible people as possible into the tax net to generate more revenue to develop the state.’
The governor, who acknowledged the support of the union during the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, says the support is largely responsible for the level of success recorded in curtailing the virus and reducing its impact in the lives and livelihood of citizens of Edo State.
‘Despite the uncertainty and distruction by Coronavirus in Edo State, we have kept faith with our statutory obligation to our workers. We have ensued that salaries and pensions are paid as at when due.
‘We have ensured of adequate protection to keep our workers safe. The back log of arrears have been cleared as promised four years ago.
‘We have successfully migrated our workers to the contributory pension scheme. We want to continue the implementation of contributory pension scheme at the local government level.
‘I made a commitment in restructuring the Civil Service, public service through introducing technology, hiring more hands, training and retraining staff of Edo State, revamping the systems and processes in the public service to ensure the Government are impactful on the citizens and provide high quality service to the people.
‘Despite the COVID-19 pandemic challenges we have continued with the tasks of reforming our work processes and building the capacity at the John Oyegun training centre to drive effectiveness and efficiency in the civil service.
‘Our intension in the long run is to make the Edo State Civil Zervice the most modern, efficient and private sector facing governance machine in Africa. I appreciate the entire workers of Edo State without wish we would not be able to deliver on our electoral promises.’
He said to motivate the state workforce, his administration has rectified workers promotion from 2018 to 2019. He noted that the promotion exercise for 2020 is currently going on and the process will be gaurded by merit and reward for deligence in the dispatch of duties and responsibilities.
‘We are fast tracking the construction of the Labour House which you will be proud off. A place that will help deepened the cooperation for a robust engagement for the union and government.’
He said his administration have ensure that the children of those who lose their lives in the line of duties are well cater for. He said through the instrumentality of a group life insurance package contained in the contributory pension scheme, death benefits are paid as at when due to beneficiaries.
The Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Edo State Council, Sunday Osanyande, said the 2020 Workers’ Day did not hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but commended the determination of the Obaseki administration in fighting the pandemic.
Osanyande said that in spite of the challenges of the pandemic Governor Obaseki took an agressive stance on industrialisation, Infrastructural revolution, implementation of the N30,000 Minimum Wage, reconstruction and revitalisation of the moribund Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium to world class standard, prompt promotion of Edo State workers up to 2020.
‘We are greatful to the Executive Governor of Edo State for the extent of work done in the labour house through the release of fund to the contractor which has taken the building to appreciable level of completion,’ he stated.
‘It is evident that the mismanagement, instability in economy and lack of job have caused hunger, poverty, insecurity and other social vices in the country.’
He called on the federal government to put machineries in places to create jobs and job opportunities for the the people.
The Chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Marshall Ohue, appreciate Governor Obaseki for his efforts in repositioning Edo State. He noted that the foresight of the governor has helped in the construction of a befitting workers secretariat, technical college, industrial court, Osiomo power plant, and the massive road construction of roads across Edo State.
‘Edo jobs, power plant, Industrial hub are among the numerous project of his administration geared towards the development of Infrastructural and institutional framework for job led growth economy,’ he noted.