By Shuaib Sadiq
Governor Nasiru El-Rufai of Kaduna State has said that the Organised Private Sector and Business Owners operating in the state must regard prompt payment of taxes as a responsibility.
The governor made the remarks in Kaduna when he appeared on a programme organised by the Kaduna Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture in partnership with the OPS.
The programme tagged `Interactive Session with Gubernatorial Candidates` was initiated by the two bodies to appreciate the plans of the candidates for the private sector.
El-Rufa’i was the second candidate to address the organisers after the SDP candidate, Haruna Sa’id appeared on Tuesday.
The governor stressed that his administration had initiated policies and reforms that made Kaduna State number one in the Ease of Doing Business ranking in the country.
“With our new laws and policies we have moved the state in the ease of doing business ranking from number 24 it occupied in 2014 to number one in 2016 in the country and that has attracted many investments into the state.
“Tax is very important to the government and business operators must ensure their taxes are remitted promptly and appropriately for government to be able to provide more infrastructure, social services and security to the citizens of the state.”
According to him, the state government had reviewed its tax laws to a moderate level that every operator with a registered business name in the state would be able to pay as when due.
He added that the government had provided enabling environment for all operators in agriculture and the economic sector to grow their businesses in the state.
“Kaduna currently is number one in Maize, Sorghum, Ginger and Tomato production in the country and, as we speak, investments are coming in tomato processing through different value chains.“
Speaking on the high cost of business registration, the governor said:“Our research results showed that it was better to have something uniform and we all agreed that N10,000 for business registration is not to high.
“But we can still discuss that and see how we can work around it with my team and other stakeholders.“
He identified some of the challenges facing business operators in the state to include high interest rate and poor documentation.
He agreed that accessing credit from commercial banks had become difficult due to high interest rate of 24 per cent,“that is very high and running a business with that is not possible.
“Another difficultly is that many business owners do not pay appropriate taxes, they do not have proper documents for their lands.
“Most business owners do not have bank accounts and permanent addresses for them to access the state government micro credit.
“You must have business place registered, have up to date tax payment, have a bank account and with a residential address, where we can find you.
“We are offering micro credit facility at single digit interest rate of nine per cent. But you must meet all these conditions for you to access the soft loans being offered by the state government,“ El-Rufai said.
He assured that the government was utilising taxes collected effectively.
“We are not stealing your money pay your taxes adequately. Every money we ask you to pay as tax is being utilised to develop the state.
“The land use charge only came into use in 2017, before the land use charge, it was only ground rent which is between January and December of every year and, is among the lowest in the country,“ he said.
The governor also spoke on efforts to revive textile industries in the state.
“Already we are concluding arrangement with Chinese investors who are willing to invest $200 million, and they asking for about 4000 hectares of land and some other conditions.
“All I can promise is that we are doing whatever we can to revive the Kaduna textile industry, but as a garment industry for military and paramilitary uniforms.
“We are talking with the Federal Government on steady electricity while we as a state, are looking at issues of tax holidays and subsidized water supply.
“We are also collaborating with Dangote Group, and would soon setup a new Peugeot automobile plant to produce trucks and other automobile products that would be less expensive and more affordable to the people.
“We are going to phase out the Keke Napep and replace it with taxi cabs to be assembled by the plant.”
On security, he said the administration would soon introduce drones to address the security challenges.
According to him security is the basic operating principle for any government to perform in a state like Kaduna.
“We are using technology; we have acquired drones and would soon be put into use.
“President Muhammadu Buhari would have commissioned the drones during his visit but his schedule was too tight.
“We are also using advanced Radio communication gadgets with a long range to combat kidnapping and banditry in the state.
“The menace of bandits and kidnapping has reduced and we are not relenting, we would continue address it.
“We are even trying to acquire a helicopter for Ariel view all in the effort to effectively tackle security challenges in the state.
“We are also setting up a Security Trust Fund, with private sector contributing to the fund and the management of the funds through a board. The bill had been signed into law,“ El-Rufai said.
More than 30 business operators attended the event. (NAN)