by crossriverwatch admin
Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River state on Thursday said available data indicates that 90 percent of business ventures in the state are owned by stranger elements and not by indigenes.
Speaking during the commissioning of Asi Ukpo Diagnostic and Medical Centre in Calabar, the Governor reiterated that major business outfits which are indirectly impacting the state’s economy and helping in the fight against unemployment are owned by strangers.
He lamented lack of commitment by Cross River indigenes to service delivery and challenged them to key into the vision of government.
He said, “There are 600 community health facilities in 18 local government areas of Cross River state. Regrettably, nearly all the Doctors in the rural communities engaged by government are non-Cross Riverians. They are willing and committed to their work. Our own people are waiting for appointment in the Teaching Hospital.”
Responding to an appeal by the Chief Executive Officer of the Diagnostic Centre, Brig-General Anthony Ukpo (Rtd) for tax relief for a certain number of years for business ventures in the state, the Governor said his government was ready to encourage businesses, particularly health-related.
Imoke commended Ukpo, a Cross Riverian from Ogoja, for establishing the medical center, noting that Ukpo built the facilities because of his passion for improved health care services as well as his commitment to project Cross River.
He explained further that because of unavailability of modern diagnostic equipment, a fortune is spent by Nigerians for medical treatment abroad, and that most of those cases would now be referred to the new center.
“The Cross River state government spends an average of N500 million annually as help to send people to India, South Africa, Israel, Egypt, United States of America and United Kingdom amongst others. This is because of complete absence of equipment in the country,” he said.
The Governor disclosed that Cross River was not charging excessive taxes but that most big business ventures pay taxes to the federal government while the state collects only Pay As You Earn Tax (PAYE).
He said “they are more than 40 quarries in Akamkpa. They get their licenses from Abuja and they come to our rural communities, exploit our people, create all sort of youth restiveness and then damage our roads.”
Speaking earlier, General Ukpo said people die because of lack of medical attention besides having access to good medical facilities, adding “the Center is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment.” He described it as the most comprehensive diagnostic center in Nigeria.
He said the Centre has equipment on pathology, radiology like CT scan, sophisticated X-ray machines, ultrasound, echo cardiograph amongst numerous others, reasoning that for medical tourism to thrive in Cross River, the state government should give some incentives and grant major tax relieve for a period of time to encourage investors.
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