By PeterÂ Duru
THE standoff between the management of the Benue Cement Company Plc BCC, Gboko and the officials of the Benue State Board of Internal Revenue Service over a N190million tax evasion by BCC has been resolve while the factory that was shot down has reopened for production.
The defaulting Company has agreed to offset the backlog of tax in two installments in two months stretch.
Before reaching a compromise on the matter, the factory had earlier been shot down for close to 48 hours by officials of the Revenue Board while production of cement at the factory was halted.
The halt in production at the factory site was a fall out of a lingering row between the management of the BCC and the Revenue Board over the refusal of the former to honour its financial obligation to the state government through the payment of personal income tax to the tune of N190million to the coffers of government.
The 48 hours barricade of the factory which was led by the Chairman of the Revenue Board, Mr. Andrew Ayabam, accompanied by his team of officials and security operatives, was the first major task of the newly appointed Chairman of the revenue service board who has vowed to execute the mandate of his office to the latter.
Ayabam had told newsmen that BCC was going to remain under luck and keys until every kobo that was being owed the state government was cleared by the management of the company.
He disclosed that the board had on several occasions prevailed on the company to honor its responsibilities to the government but regretted that the subtle persuasion yielded no positive result hence the decision of the board to resort to enforcement.
â€œâ€œI am prepared to remain here at the gates until they commence the payment of the backlog of unpaid taxes in one of the five banks that operate within the premises of the factoryâ€â€, Ayabam said.
The Revenue Board Chairman who lamented the adverse implication of tax evasion on the economy of a state especially by cooperate organizations informed that he was out to restore sanity in the tax collection drive in the state warning all defaulting organizations to pay up or be ready to face the wrath of the Board.
He noted that the Governor Gabriel Suswam led administration was determined to positively impact on the lives of the people through its well articulated programmes maintaining that these policies and programmes would amount to nothing when government fails to raise enough funds to finance such set objectives.
According to him, â€œâ€œwe have a mandate to assist the government check all perceived leakages in its effort at boosting the Internally Generated Revenue IGR drive and I strongly believe that it is the responsibility of both citizens and cooperate organizations alike to assist this government through regular payment of taxes to aid the development efforts of the administration in the stateâ€â€.
The action of the Board also attracted the attention of the General Manager in charge of Finance, Mr. Michael Etu, BCC Plc, who came to the gate with other managers for a brief dialogue with the management of the Revenue Service.
However, Ayabam, insisted that if there would be any dialogue every member of his team and the press must be present to witness proceedings; but Mr. Etu declared, â€œthen you are not ready to dialogue. When you get tired of standing in the sun, you will leave the gate.â€
Vanguard however gathered that a safe landing was reached on the matter after several consultations on both sides of the contending parties and the Revenue Board Management were prevailed upon to accept the condition for two installmental payments.