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Market Digest Nigeria

Politics

Gov Yahaya Bello makes a u-turn, says bread levy is devilish

The Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, has described the imposition of tax on loaves of bread sold in the state as devilish.

The governor, in a statement by his deputy, Edward Onoja on Saturday, said he never approved such wickedness.

The governor’s statement came as people have continued to condemn the tax on bread loaves by the government which was announced in a memo signed by the permanent secretary Kogi State Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Usman Ibrahim, on November 9.

The memo which disclosed that the state government hired a consultant, Musag Enterprises, to levy bakers and caterers for every loaf of bread and confectionery sild in the state, was addressed to the state chapter of Association of Master bakers and Caterers of Nigeria chairperson.

Following the initial outcry after the move was announced, the state Commissioner of Information, Kingsley Fanwo, issued a statement to defend the levy.

He had said that the levy was imposed to protect indigenous bakers from people that bring bread into the state without paying any form of levy.

Apparently due to mounting attacks on the policy, the state government made a U-turn on Saturday with Onoja saying, “For the records, neither the governor nor the state executive council has imagined or proposed such a devilish tax regime, how much less imposing same on any food or essential commodity, not to mention bread which is a table staple and the basic lifeline of many a household.”

Noting that he was directed by Governor Bello to personally fault the claim in order to show that the government really had no hand in it, the deputy governor said:

“I am directed by His Excellency to give the lie to news of an alleged tax imposed on each loaf of bread to be sold in Kogi State. There is no iota of truth in the claims that we have approved such wickedness, because we have not and cannot.”

According to Onoja the policy was not in tandem with the “widely advertised posture of the state government that the people of Kogi State must not be subjected to any act or policy that will increase their pains in this Covid-19 season.”

He added, “No extra financial burden will apply for the time being… any business which has met the regulatory requirements for doing business in Kogi State including payment of routine tax is entitled to operate freely, and that includes bakeries and bread traders.”

On what the government will do concerning the development, he said those behind the “rumours” would be fished out and punished.

“We will not tolerate our own officials trying to profiteer off our people in any way, or even acting ill-advisedly in manners that cause them any form of distress,” Onoja added.

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