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August 17, 2018

Imo Development Levy: Town Unions cry out

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The Association of South East Town Unions (ASETU) has pleaded with Governor Rochas Okorocha not to squeeze the life out of Imolites by further imposing a development levy, on hungry stomachs.

On April 3, 2018, Governor Okorocha wrote to all traditional rulers, asking each of them to raise N6, 000, 000 (six million Naira) from his community as development levy. This amounts to N3,000 (three thousand naira) each for 2,000 adults.

The Governor warned that any traditional ruler unable to pay would lose his office and also have his autonomous community merged with another.

However, town unions, in a letter dated April 20, 2018, entitled, “An appeal for reconsideration of levies on communities,” and signed by Chief Emeka Diwe National President argued that imposing a levy at a time like this is unfair.

They described the levy as ‘a time bomb,’ reminding the Governor ‘there is hunger in the land’.
ASETU noted that a large number of eligible adults are jobless while many others are traders whose businesses and livelihood have been affected by Government’s on-going road expansion project and market demolition.

“Your policy of modernization of rural markets in Imo State, however, well intentioned it might be, has further aggravated the woes of our people because of the way it is being carried out. The demolitions, especially as they are done without any alternatives for the traders, have accentuated the rate of poverty in the state, raised a new army of unemployed people and created a large breed of human population susceptible to vices and crime,” ASETU said.
“Your Excellency, given these realities, we consider it painful, heartbreaking and unfair for your administration to slam a levy of six million naira on every Town Union in Imo State. Where are we going to get the money from?”
The town unions urged Governor Okorocha to take a leaf from Anambra and Enugu states where the Governors are rather giving funds to town unions to handle development projects.

Imolites on radio call–in programmes, also condemned Governor Okorocha’s development levy in unison, asking him instead to emulate ‘The choose – your-project’ initiative of Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State by which he doled out the sum of N20 million to every autonomous community in the state for projects.

No fewer than 130 projects have been completed in the first phase of the scheme initiated by Gov Willie Obiano to enhance infrastructural development. Communities that completed the first phase project would receive another N20 million for the second phase.

A similar project exists in Enugu State, where N10 million was also given to empower each autonomous community to enable them address what they called ‘peculiar and immediate development needs’ in their areas.

In Imo analysts are still asking what became of the bailout fund and the Paris club refund that the state will be so broke to demand extra tax from impoverished citizens of the state.



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