By Cerutti MIKE 
Simply amazing! Or how else can one describe the  recent strange  confession of The Ebonyi  State Governor, Eng. David Nweze Umahi, who  divulged that  his cabinet members attend  Executive Council meetings  with calculators  especially when issues that have to do with spending from the state’s lean treasury are to beDb considered.
“We attend meetings with
calculators in order to be prudent in the face of economic hardship in the country, especially in our  state,” he told a news conference in Abakaliki on Friday.
The press conference  which was broadcasted live was called to enable the governor explain to   and douse the  complaints by  Ebonyi State residents over the new levies and  tax regime introduced by the government.
Governor Umahi, who called for an understanding by the residents, said his administration was not unmindful of their difficulties, saying the levies and taxes were not meant to worsen their plights.
He said because his government was determined to complete all  infrastructural  projects  in the state  capital and other communities within the first two years of his tenure, he had been reluctant to make available official vehicles to the EXCO and state House of Assembly  members.
“Commissioners in neighbouring states  drive  brand new jeeps as their official vehicles but here in Ebonyi, my EXCO members don’t, They still use their ministry’s pickup vans,same with our caretaker chairmen of local government areas.  So we are being very mindful of our situation economically”
Umahi  said the f allocation to the state from the federation account in the last three months dropped by N700 million while that of the LGAs in the state dropped by  about N600 million.
 Stressing that the new revenue law introduced by his administration  was done in the best interest of the people, he said that with an improved internal revenue base, his government  would be able  execute projects that would transform the state and better the lot  of the citizenry.
He noted   the “unfriendly” reactions   towards the new taxes and levies and  stated  the state Executive Council did not direct that the arrears of taxes for 2013 and 2014 be collected alongside those of 2015.
Governor Umahi said, “My people went beyond bounds.  We never directed anybody to collect taxes for 2013 and 2014.  Our interest is for 2015; there is nowhere, with the level of poverty in the state, we will ask people to pay tax for three years and give them four days to do that.”
He however appealed to the people to pay their taxes for 2015 based on the new rate,  stressing that a town hall meeting would be held  early next  week to review the impact of the new  tax regime.
The governor assured  that those “those who paid for 2013 and 2014 will receive their money back”.
He warned those charged with the enforcement of the payment of taxes in the state to wear a human face in the execution of the assignment, warning  that any revenue agent found to be engaging in malpractices would be made to face the wrath of the law.
Governor Umahi  said, “The moment you defraud any Ebonyian in this issue of revenue, you will go to prison straight.”
He   reassured workers that he would not downsize the workforce, despite the challenges arising from the dwindling revenue allocation   to the state.

He described the present economic challenges being faced as a global problem, saying;  "Many  states have been mooting ideas that they want to scale scale down workers,but for me it is a difficult one.

"I will never think of scaling down workers in Ebonyi state because,if it is hardship we scale down workers,those people that will be out of job,how will they feed their families?

"Ebonyi state is a state of one family,you know brothers and sisters living together,so is quite a difficult thing and is never an option for us to solve our problem,So I want to assure our civil servants that no matter how we are challenged we do not want to reduce the workforce"

He assured Ebonyi people that despite challenges,his administration would  complete all the projects embarked upon “within two years   even if oil price goes down by $20 per barrel.


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