By Jonathan Ugbal; Government House Correspondent
Quarry operators carrying out activities within Cross River State must fulfil their obligations to the government as business operators if they are to be patronized by the current administration says Governor Benedict Ayade.
The governor made this known to the operators in a meeting with them in his office in Calabar which according to him was to reconcile the differences between them and government agencies.
He said the period of shady deals were over as stringent methods will be put in place and quarries which were found erring will not be recommended when construction work kick starts proper.
The governor also talked tough on taxation, levying and environmental impact. “You don’t steal and feel it is business; that is not business but a crime. There are cases where you have someone go into a quarry and gets loaded without paying the appropriate levies, the truck is seized then people come crawling, begging for the release of the truck. This time it won’t be only the truck but the quarry will be shut down. It is the duty of government to protect you but do the right thing to ensure you deserve government protection. You must assist us to help you. The future looks bright but you must have clean hands to benefit from the brightness that is ahead of us.” he said.
Reacting to a statement by the leader of the operators, Paulinus Ntui, that their Chinese colleagues where pushing them out of business due to the fact they sold a tonne of the material for almost half the production price of 4,800 Naira, Ayade described it as untrue as the cost of production per tonne was 900 Naira and it was due to the minimal drive for profit, the Chinese companies were selling far below others.
Ntui had earlier enumerated their problems as high levies and taxations, multiple taxation by similar departments and agencies, pressure from host communities and lack of access roads which have contributed to the shutting down of over ten quarry companies.
The governor then directed the State Security Adviser to ensure there was minimal pressure from the host communities and promised access roads if only the quarry operators fulfilled their obligations. He also directed the Internal Revenue Service to ensure stringent levying and taxation techniques are used to prevent leakages.
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