Meat Scarcity As Butchers Protest New Tax Regime In Ekiti
Meat scarcity looms in Ekiti State as butchers yesterday protested new tax regime imposed by the state government.
Besides the state government yesterday announced that demolition of the Erekesan market known as Oja Oba will begin today to pave way for an ultra modern one to be built by government.
Many residents that went to market to buy meat searched in vain, forcing them to go for frozen chicken and turkey which prices jumped up immediately.
The government had closed all the abattoirs in the state following the refusal of the butchers to pay N1, 000 on each cow slaughtered.
Apart from the new tax of N1, 000 up from N300 per cow, the butchers also claimed that they are paying veterinary tax, inspection rate and Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) levy.
The angry butchers said the new tax which, according to them, would see each butcher paying at least N26, 000 in a month could kill their businesses
Tension had mounted since Thursday following a radio announcement by the Commissioner for Agriculture, Kehinde Odebunmi, that all abattoirs would be shut down following the resistance of the butchers to pay the new tax and any butcher caught operating illegal abattoirs is liable to a fine of N20, 000.
Led by the Chairman of Butchers Association in Ado Ekiti Local Government, Alhaji Mustapha Kareem, the protesters who held leaves and chanted war songs stormed the abattoir as early as 6.30 am but they met a detachment of armed policemen who prevented them from occupying the place.
The butchers who were denied access to the Ado Ekiti Main Abattoir along Iworoko Road vowed to force the place open tomorrow and slaughter cows if government fails to accede to their demands.
Kareem disclosed that they had met with Governor Ayo Fayose to reconsider the new tax and suggested N500, which the governor rejected. He added that abattoirs in nearby states don’t pay as high as N1, 000.
He revealed that similar taxes charged in nearby states range between N150 and N300 saying the butchers pleaded with Fayose to consider their proposal of N500 up from N300 hitherto paid.
Kareem said: “This new tax will kill our business and it will affect the masses because there will be no meat in the market. Can you imagine that if we are paying N1, 000 per cow, the least our members will be paying each month is N26, 000 and this is unacceptable.
“It is too much and it will affect what we sell to the public, we suggested N500 to the governor but he refused. Members of the public will bear the brunt, people will suffer and those that want to celebrate occasions will be affected.
Addressing reporters on the development, Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Mr Ayodele Michael, said the new tax was aimed at providing better facilities at all abattoirs in the state.
Ayodele said government held meetings with the butchers before the new tax was arrived at to generate more revenue and make the abattoirs more conducive to business.
Commissioner for Information, Youth and Sports Development, Lanre Ogunsuyi, said N1, 000 tax per cow is not too much saying facilities at public abattoirs had fallen into state of disrepair.
Ogunsuyi said government would not succumb to blackmail and intimidation saying the new tax and other levies recently imposed in the state were done in public interest and not intended to make life difficult for the citizens.