By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN—FOR the second time in two weeks, Edo State government, weekend, shut down the multi-billion dollars Federal Government’s Independent Power Plant, IPP, at Ihovor, Benin City, over failure of the Japanese contractors handling the project to remit its backlog of Pay-As- You-Earn, PAYE, taxes.
It would be recalled that the plant was initially sealed up two weeks ago over alleged failure to remit the sum of N77million being its tax liabilities, but was re-opened after the company paid part of its liability and signed an undertaking to pay up the balance within seven days.
It was gathered that upon the expiration of the seven days grace period, the company failed to honour its obligations, even after the state Board of Internal Revenue made frantic efforts to ensure compliance.
Chairman of the state Board of Internal Revenue, Dr Ese Owie, said the Board’s action was necessitated by what he described as the “recalcitrant stance of the Japanese Company handling the IPP Project.”
He said the company’s refusal to deduct and remit PAYE taxes due the state government was not “only a criminal offence but also indicative of an embarrassing tragic nonchallant attitude of foreign companies operating in Nigeria and their willingness to breach existing laws in their quest to maximise profits that are immediately repatriated to their home countries.
“The most disturbing aspect of Marubeni’s conduct is their blatant refusal to deduct and remit taxes of workers that have been engaged to execute a multi-billion naira contract.
“This attitude not only denies Edo State government of the much-needed revenue, but also short changes the Federal Government that is funding he project. So they will be made to pay in full their liabilities before the plant is re-opened.”