By Gabriel Enogholase
BENINâ€”GOVERNOR Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State weekend in Benin accused local government chairmen of refusing to remit into the state governmentâ€™s coffers various taxesÂ deducted from their employees and contractors.
He listed such taxes to include Pay As You Earn (PAYE) deducted from local government employees, withholding tax and development levies.
The governor, who spoke for the first time on the accusations of multiple tax deductions leveled against his government by local government chairmen, said that over the years,Â the council chairmen have deliberately refused to remit to the state government the various taxes the have deducted despite several appeals made to them.
Vanguard could recalled that the chairmen of local government councils in the state, under aegis of the Association of Local Government Councils of Nigeria (ALGON), refused to collect their May 2009 federal allocation cheques, citing what they called multiple deductions from their allocations by the state government as the reason for their action.
However, Oshiomhole, while addressing the State Executive Council members of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), that visited him in his office said:Â â€œWe have some challenges from the local government councils.
â€œLike every employees, they are expected by law to make deductions and when they make such deductions, whether correctly or not, what happened over the years is that they refused to remit the monies deducted to the state government. Workers in the local government pay the taxes and the chairmen withhold the money without remitting it to the state government.
â€œAfter some warnings, we just decided that if you are deducting the taxes from the employees and you donâ€™t remit, we will deduct whatever you have deducted from our employees from your allocations.
And you also know by law what we called withholding tax and development tax which is imposed on any contractor that does business in the state, whether with the state or local government or those who have business even with the private sector.
â€œ When you deduct the withholding tax or the development levies, it is supposed to be paid to the state government.Â But again, we found out that over the years, many, if not all the local government councils, made these deductions and refused to remit money so deducted to the state. After several warnings and pleadings, we then decided to recover the money that they have deducted on behalf of the state government.
â€œOff course, they then decided to use the workers as human shields, use workers as human shields in the sense that they then refused to collect their cheques. They are not disputing the f act that they deducted this money; they are disputing the fact that they deducted withholding tax or development levies form the various contractors that did business in the state or local government councilsâ€.
Oshiomhole said that the state government was justified in its action, as it also had over N70 million deducted from its allocation by the federal government for debts owed by previous administrations in the state.
He asked the council chairmen to take a legal action against his administration if what he had done was outside the ambit of the law.