While the nation bickers over the Onnoghen’s saga, it appears not to have noticed the appearance of a phenomenally dazzling silver lining in the horizon of road infrastructure in our polity. It is called Executive Order 007. By this Order, Mr. President is authorised to grant exemption from corporate taxation, for certain companies or groups of companies, who are willing to deploy their working capitals to fund road projects, by way of issuance of tax credits.
In simple terms, what this means is that companies can go into funding road constructions directly from their taxable incomes in exchange for exemption from payment of their corporate tax equivalent to the amount that is required for the funding of the road infrastructure.
This will translate to companies fixing those road networks around their operation areas and addressing thereby the injustice suffered by companies who, after paying their taxes still suffer the infrastructural deficit of deplorable road conditions for which the taxes are meant to fix.
If well implemented, Executive 007 will also help to address the perennial conflicts between companies and their respective host communities particularly, in respect of accusations and counter-accusations over social responsibility, where, for instance, in the riverine communities of the Niger Delta, host communities constantly accuse oil companies in the region of neglecting their corporate social responsibilities while the companies will always demur at the government for shirking its own responsibilities of providing the required social amenities to the communities even after collecting the taxes, and asserting thereon their justification. Companies now have the opportunity of killing two birds with one stone: being able to provide a bit of their own social capitals (roads) for ease of their operations while contemporaneously fulfilling their corporate social responsibility in the same breath.
There is a dire need for more Executive Orders in similar direction to address deficits in such other areas the government has obligations to meet the infrastructural needs of the citizenry particularly in the areas of power, healthcare, housing etc, on one hand and another Executive Order to address intergovernmental switch of statutory obligations under mutually agreed terms and conditions between the tiers of governments involved. Indeed Executive Order 007 appears to the Knight in shiny amour required to usher in the needed systemic revolution in the intractable infrastructural challenge in road construction and maintenance, for now.
Chris Edache Agbiti wrote this piece from Abuja