Bamenda: Main Market Traders Decry Tax Harassment

                  The traders gathered infront of the Main Market          

Traders of the Bamenda Main Market under the canopy of Bamenda Traders and Economic Operator’s Union BTEO Tuesday March 8, shut down the entire market to take part in a sensitization meeting with officials of the regional delegation of trade and divisional service of taxation to seek clarification on what they described as unjust prize control and tax drive by these officials.

The meeting in front of the Main market main gate was briefly interrupted by the police led by Assistant Police Superintendent Njou Bernard, before being allowed to proceed.

The police arrived following an anonymous tip

The police arrived following an anonymous tip

The meeting was briefly interrupted by rain and the police

The meeting was briefly interrupted by rain and the police

Commerce and taxation officials listening to the traders' complaints

Commerce and taxation officials listening to the traders’ complaints

The traders through their representatives and in a question and answer session sought to find out why there were several prize and global tax control at the main market every financial year.

Nde Fredrick Nifang, president of the Progressive Bamenda Traders Association in his speech raised several worries which he said had been raised in February 2014 in a similar meeting but never addressed but the powers that be.

He questioned the presence of two custom posts between Bamenda and Bafoussam, the poor state of the road between Bamenda and Mbouda, the bypassing of retailers by some whole sellers, too many price control missions, very high taxes, and a called on tax officials to be respectful, accommodating and be kind and to clarify them on the amount of taxes they are to pay? amongst others.

Responding to these concerns, the Regional delegate of Commerce for the Northwest, Matoya Cletus explained that his department is mostly out to protect the consumer reasons why they check on the price tag on shelved goods, expiry date, weighing scale, measuring instrument, quality and quantity of goods, warranty period, certificate of conformity for imported foods and drinks, official sealed on imported goods like wine etc.  Failure to provide these he continued attracts a fine of 10% on turnover but said they don’t follow these strictly because of the situation we find ourselves in.  He further advised the traders to diversify their line of business and to tap from the huge potentials presented by the tarring of the Bamenda Enugu road that opens up the vast West African market. He told businessmen who buy from Nigeria to also export other products and good from Cameroon so as to help in the balance of trade and minimize their running cost.

He announced that his office now issues import-export license in just a matter of hours to facilitate the importation and exportation of goods and urged traders to make use of it.

Addressing issues of tax harassment, the divisional chief of taxation for Mezam, Fru Isaac said arbitrary assessment is not tax harassment and has been mistook for it by many tax payers. Arbitrary assessment he said is done in a legal form when a tax payer has refused to submit his tax declarations when payment are overdue and the taxation department orders for an assessment. But harassment comes when taxpayers are assessed without following laid down parimetres or on control without authorization.

He enlightened the traders that tax officials must show an official batch and a mission order  before their controls and that there are mechanism which the taxpayer can undertake if he thinks that they have been wrongly assed by going to the litigation service of the taxation service and if their concerns are genuine, the taxes will be quashed.

He advised the traders to avoid using intermediaries or taxation workers as middle men to pay their taxes but to come directly to the tax office and pay their taxes or use certified tax accountants to do so.

The meeting ended with a pledge by both parties to continue such sensitization in the days ahead.

Market leaders addressing the authoriies

Market leaders addressing the authoriies

The stalls were all shut

The stalls were all shut

by Abongwa Fozo

                            

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