New tax regime pitches butchers against Ekiti Govt … Abattoirs shut Indefinitely
By; OLADELE ADEDAYO, Ado-Ekiti
Butchers in Ekiti State are on collision course with the state government over hike in tax payable on each slaughtered cow in the state as they embarked on peaceful protest on Friday and shut all abattoirs.
Government had imposed a tax of N1, 000 on each cow slaughtered but the butchers refused to pay describing it as “exorbitant and outrageous.”
Apart from the new tax of N1,000 which was increased from N300 per cow, the butchers also claimed that they pay veterinary tax, inspection rate and Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) levy.
The angry butchers said the new tax which, according to them, would see each butcher paying at least N26, 000 in a month, could affect their businesses.
Tension was generated Thursday following a radio announcement by the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Kehinde Odebunmi, that all abattoirs would be shut down following the resistance of the butchers to pay the new tax and that any butcher caught operating illegal abattoirs would be liable to a fine of N20,000.
The aggrieved Butchers who were led by their Chairman in Ado-Ekiti Local Government, Alhaji Mustapha Kareem, held leaves and chanted war songs, stormed the abattoir as early as 6.30 am but met a detachment of armed Policemen who barred them from accessing the place.
The butchers who were denied access to the Ado-Ekiti Main Abattoir along Iworoko road stayed some meters away from the junction of Radio Nigeria Progress 100.5 FM and vowed to force the place open tomorrow and slaughter cows if government fails to accede to their demands.
Kareem disclosed that they had met with Fayose to reconsider the new tax and suggested N500 which the governor rejected. He added that abattoirs in nearby states don’t pay as high as N1,000.
He revealed that similar taxes charged in nearby states range between N150 and N300 saying the butchers pleaded with Fayose to consider their proposal of N500 up from N300 hitherto paid.
According to him “this new tax will kill our business and it will affect the masses because there will be no meat in the market. Can you imagine that if we are paying N1,000 per cow, the least our members will be paying each month is N26,000 and this is unacceptable.
“It is too much and it will affect what we sell to the public. We suggested N500 to the governor but he refused. Members of the public will bear the brunt, people will suffer and those that want to celebrate occasions will be affected.
“We urge the governor to accommodate N500 tax instead of the N1,000 because we believe N500 is reasonable and it is the consumers that will suffer most.”
Addressing reporters on the development, Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Ayodele Michael said the new tax was aimed at providing better facilities at all abattoirs in the state.
Micheal said government held meetings with the butchers before the new tax was arrived at to generate more revenue and make the abattoirs more conducive to business.
While Commissioner for Information, Youth and Sports Development, Lanre Ogunsuyi said N1,000 tax per cow is not too much saying facilities at public abattoirs are in states of disrepair.
Ogunsuyi maintained that government would not succumb to blackmail and intimidation, saying the new tax and other levies recently imposed in the state were done in public interest and not aimed at making life difficult for the citizens.