A protest by people selling drinks at the 2016 Calabar Xmas village almost took the shine off the first few business and leisure days, after the village was declared open by state governor, Ben Ayade, on December 1, 2016.
Sources at the Xmas village, located on the grounds of the Calabar Municipal Council informed www.calitown.com that the Cross River State Government’s decision to design, impose and enforce the collection of a levy on every bottle of drink sold at the village throughout the period the place remains open, did not go down well with most business operators at the village, causing them to boo and threaten government agents sent to the village to carry out the collection of the levy. The operators we were told, opined that they may be unable to make profit or even recoup invested capital since government has eyes set on taking a fraction of daily sale of drinks.
It was further disclosed to us that, most business operators at the place are of the opinion that if government is insisting on collecting a fraction of their sales per bottle, it will jerk up the price of drinks in the village, higher than what obtains on the streets of Calabar and customers will be drawn away from the village to alternative places where they can buy drinks at a much cheaper rate.
But government sources are insisting that they will go ahead with the collection of the money, per bottle of drink sold, per day, to help in the daily running of the village, a cost entirely borne by government. One source came clear with the submission that it is not out of place for government to demand a token from alcohol and beverage drinks sold “at a designated place like the Xmas village. They should even demonstrate an eagerness to pay this token, to help government continue to provide basic and essential services at the village, for everyone’s benefit”. It is something people doing business at the village believe can also be achieved if government judiciously manages what she made from the leasing of shops and sundry charges. For now, both sides of the divide are not shifting positions.
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