The Imo Hoteliers Association has issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Imo State Government to arrest the ugly trend of illegal taxation or risk closure of hotels in the state.

Chairman of the Association, Mr Chima Chukwunyere, said this while speaking with newsmen in Owerri on Wednesday.

Chukwunyere, who was reacting to what he described as the “illegal sealing” of Harvesters Hotel by revenue touts, disguised as government’s revenue agents, said that there were no court or other injunctions before the sealing.

He argued that as the second highest employers of labour after the government in the state, the unabated activities of the illegal revenue collectors had continued to deal a devastating blow to the industry.

He, however, noted that the association had religiously adhered to a mutual agreement between it and the Imo Internal Revenue Service (IIRS) in respect of payment of taxes and other sundry obligations.

“More often than not, we have suffered a setback through the activities of some criminal elements who subject the members of our Association to extortion and seal up our hotels on trumped up charges with impunity.

“Collection of levy for Environmental Impact Analysis (EIA) and that of Environmental Audit (EA) is the exclusive responsibility of the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) as ordered by the Appeal Court.

“All our Hotels have complied with the Federal Government directive and the government has visited our hotels and has given us a clean bill of health.

“The Appeal Court ruling of 2018 banned all states of the federation and the FCT from indulging in EIA and EA and we are shocked that so-called revenue agents are sealing hotels and extorting our members.

“Consequently, the Association has issued a 14-day ultimatum to the state government to arrest the ugly trend or risk the closure of all hotels in the state “, he said.

Speaking, secretary of the association, Mr Michael Mbakwe, urged the state government to set up a committee to remedy the unhealthy practice.

This, he said, would go a long way to stem the ugly tide of multiple and illegal taxation.

Illegal taxation: Tourism industry in Imo risks shutdown as hoteliers give govt 14-day ultimatum