Bayelsa State Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson has inaugurated a seven-member Physical Planning and Development Tribunal with, a mandate to assess all landed properties and corporate businesses and ensure the payment of appropriate taxes and rates.
The governor who inaugurated the chairman, Mr. James Benimo Lockie and the six other members of the tribunal, at the executive council chambers of Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha Memorial Banquet Hall, Government House, Yenagoa, said, the era of depending on oil and other mineral resources was gone.
According to him, Bayelsa needed to change its story of dependance on federal allocation.
Describing the payment of taxes as a moral responsibility of every citizen, Governor Dickson noted that, henceforth, those who fall fowl of the law will be brought before the tribunal, while also calling on those citizens who have grievances to approach the tribunal for redress.
He charged the members to desist from using arm-twisting tactics in dealing with defaulters, but rather use the tribunal to carry out its activities in accordance with the law.
In his words: “The government will ensure that, the citizens and corporate bodies act responsibly by paying their taxes. The board will ensure that every person doing business in the state pays their taxes.
“Bayelsans doing business outside should come in and invest and own properties, because development is a collective responsibility. Those who are building without obtaining the necessary permit, must stop forthwith, as every business must be done according to the laid down laws and procedures.
“I expect the tribunal to bring defaulters to book. States that have robust internally generated revenue are the ones that take their tax systems seriously, as Bayelsa wants to turn around its story of depending on oil and other mineral resources”.
Governor Dickson charged the members to see their assignment as a very serious business, geared towards reordering the system and ensure that, persons doing business pay their due and proper taxes.
He expressed confidence in the calibre of the people, who constitute the tribunal, while calling on the members to perform their duties conscientiously, inline with the laid down rules.
In his response, chairman of the tribunal, James Lockie expressed the commitment of the members to deliver on the assignment, stressing that, they have resolved put in their very best, in accordance with the law setting up the Tribunal.
Other members of the tribunal, include Selegha Gow, who is also to serve as registrar, Barrister Preye Ineididie, Engineer Ngosigha Michael Duobo, Mr. Nathaniel Godknows, Architect Stella Alaere Raine, and Surveyor Nestor Onyibo.