By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN—THE Association of Cocoa Farmers in Edo State, has accused the state government of alleged attempt to kill the sector by the imposition of what it described as excessive tax on the sector.
They alleged that the state government had increased monthly revenue generation from Cocoa to N100million, adding that “excessive tax regime is anti people and capable of ruining the cocoa business in the state.”
But is a swift reaction, the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr Tunde Lakoju, described the allegation as shocking, saying “over the years, no body had bothered to enforce laws, particularly as regards to some of these taxes and that was what government said they should pay, just like in all the sectors of the state’s economy. So, it is not just in the cocoa sector.”
However, the cocoa farmers in a statement by the state chairman, Mr Okhide Aigbe, shortly after the general meeting of the association in Benin City, frowned at “the incessant manner in which government increases registration fee annually, the extortion of our members by government agencies and the National Road Transport Workers on road collection. They charge N3,500 for trailers and N2,000 for small trucks.
“We also condemn the imposition of haulage fee of N300 per ton of cocoa, which government collects from cocoa buyers in the state because they are multiple taxation.”
“This is sad because it is stopping cocoa investors from coming to Edo State, as a conducive environment is no longer being provided by the government,” he said.