David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka
Medical doctors in Anambra State under the aegis of Nigerian Medical Association(NMA)have frowned over what they described as a high rate of taxation and the proliferation of such taxes by the Willie Obiano administration against private hospital owners in the state.
In an emergency general meeting of the association convened by the state chairman, Prof Jude Emejulu wednesday in Onitsha, the association decried the harassment and intimidation it was facing in the hands of government agents, saying ‘it has become unbearable’.
The group expressed worry over the inability of the government to coordinate its agents, leading to the proliferation of most taxes, despite an earlier agreement the hospital owners had struck with the state government through the office of the secretary to the state government over tax payment.
“We have had an agreement with government previously. We needed to look at about 15 taxes, some of whichwere duplicated. We sat down with the SSG to look for a way to harmonize some of these taxes, and know what private hospital owners should pay, depending on their facilities.
“Some of what we agreed to pay is actually too high, but we had to do it in the interest of peace. What is worrisome to us is that some group of people are now going about, after we have paid what we agreed with the SSG, asking more taxes from our members, saying it was Environmental Impact Assessment tax and beautification and ecology tax,” he said.
The association called on the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano to quickly wade in and ‘do the needful’, or the association would be forced to take action.
Asked what action the association will take on the expiration of its ultimatum to it, Emejulu said it would not disclose yet, as it would rather show the state government and the governor respect by giving them time to take action.
THISDAY however gathered from a member of the association who spoke on condition of anonymity that doctors in Anambra State were planning a total shut down of all hospitals in the state, should government delay in looking into its matter.
The source said that this was not unconnected with heavy taxes placed on hospitals in the state, which ranged between N150,000 and N300,000, for which they had taken about four doctors to court already.
Emejulu who briefed journalists after yesterday’s emergency meeting corroborated THISDAY’s finding, saying that its members who paid the tax agreed to by the SSG have again been taken to court by government agents over refusal to pay the new taxes, which he said were paid into private accounts.