By Dr. Dons Eze
Until now, Enugu State, and Enugu metropolis in particular, was known to be a civil service state. It was only the civil servants, the salary earners, that made the state to tick.
Enugu then was a sleepy town, not known for business activities and social life. This stemmed from the colonial orientation of the Coal City, when only those who were in government employ, counted, or mattered.
At that time, there was the bubbling coal industry, there was the railways, there was the various European companies, John Holt, Leventies Stores, Kingsway, SCOA, etc. Of course, these were supplemented or supported by civil servants who worked in government offices.
By then, it was only the employees in these establishments that gave Enugu meaning. But that would be by the end of the month, when they would receive their salaries. Every other resident of Enugu did not count, because they had not much to offer!
But as the years went by, most of these government and foreign commercial establishments became moribund or were no longer in existence, and life became very difficult for many residents of the Coal City. In the process, some of the residents began to device, or to look for means to keep body and soul together, by going into some small scale businesses, like motor repairing, welding, vulcanizing, tailoring, printing, etc.
Unfortunately, many of these businesses could not grow as a result of multiple taxations. Every now and then, owners of these businesses would be on the run because they were being pursued or chased by operatives of various government agencies who would be on their necks asking them to produce their tax receipts.
For quite some time, we have observed that nobody chases anybody any more in Enugu State, asking them to produce their tax receipts, even when most of the money so realized in such exercises would only find their way into some private pockets, rather than into the government treasury.
On assumption of office in 2015, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi had not only abolished such multiple taxations, but went further to exempt owners of small scale business enterprises in the state from paying taxes. Now, there is sanity, and the result is the boom currently being witnessed in business activities in Enugu State.
At every corner of the state, there are several street shops, restaurants, hotels, mechanic workshops, printing houses, artisans of various kinds, etc., all contributing in their own peculiar ways, in making life look meaningful for the residents of the state.
These growing small scale businesses have significantly helped to change the face of Enugu from the previous conception of a civil service state, to now a bubbling commercial and industrial City, thanks to the benevolence of the present administration, which has removed the cog in the wheel of progress by exempting owners of small scale businesses from paying taxes.