By Kelvin Ohoror
Delta Government on Wednesday said Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in the state would benefit from the tax waivers as measures to cushion the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on their businesses.
The State Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu, who disclosed this to newsmen at a news conference in Asaba, said the state also received $4.5 million (about N1.6 billion) World Bank grant for budget discipline.
Aniagwu noted that the tax waivers would enable the small businesses; private schools, hotels, agro-based businesses to remain afloat despite the ravaging impact of the pandemic.
He said that the state government was not unmindful of the impact of the COVID-19 on the people, which had impacted the nation’s economy, adding that the tax waivers would enable the businesses keep prices of goods and services on check.
According to Aniagwu, the pandemic has impacted the economy of the country and the private business since March.
“At the beginning as a government, we appealed to the privilege individuals to support the government to reach out to the less privilege in the society.
“We have provided palliatives, particularly in the area of food items to reach out to the poor and vulnerable across the 25 local government of the state.
“Today, the government has been able to put up some tax incentives as palliatives for SMEs in the state to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on businesses and to make lives easier for our people,” Aniagwu said.
Speaking further on the tax waivers, the Chairman, State Board of Internal Revenue, Mr Monday Onyeme, said private schools, transporters, private hospitals, eateries among other would benefit from the tax incentive.
According to Onyeme, all outstanding audit liabilities from 2011 to 2019 by all captured businesses will no longer attract interest or any penalty for the period.
“Also, the state government has approved waivers for charges on late submissions of returns.
“And for businesses that we have not mentioned, anyone that feels that it is necessary for them to benefit from government palliatives is free to apply as the revenue authority will look at their demands,” he said.
For his part, Dr Barry Gbe, State Commissioner for Economic Planning, disclosed that the state government has apportioned 17.1 per cent of its revised 2020 budget to COVID-19 expenditure.
Gbe said that the tax relief has been weighed by the government, adding that its impact had been absorbed.
He said that because the government was responsible to the plight of its people, the 2020 year’s budget had to be reviewed to reflect the realities of the time.
According to him, the state initial budget of N395 billion for the year under review has been reversed to N282 billion due to the pandemic.
Gbe noted that to cushion the impact of the dwindling revenue, the state has signed up with World Bank programmes and other organisations to adopt best practices by ensuring discipline in the budget line.
“In the revised budget, 17 per cent is focused on SMEs and the informal Sectors for businesses to survive and thrive despite the pandemic.
“The World Bank grant of $4.5 million was given to Delta for display of fiscal and financial discipline in 2019,” Gbe said.
Mr Fidelis Tilije, State Commissioner for Finance, said the pandemic no doubt impacted the state economy, adding that the state government was prepared for the palliatives to cushion the impact on the private sector.
According to him, the state approved amendment to the tax law to check challenges of multiple taxations in the state.
“Today, all forms of tax assessment and collections are done by the board.
“However, before the COVID-19, we have planned aggressive pursuit in terms of widening of tax nets of tax payers in the state, which has currently been put on hold because of the pandemic,” he said.