The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has raised the alarm about over 50 different taxes, levies and fees imposed on organised businesses by local, state and the Federal Government.
The employers’ body, also revealed that, currently, at the National Assembly, there are over five different Bills, which also seek to impose various taxes and levies on businesses, in addition to the notable taxes and levies which are of general application, such as The National Information Technology Development Levy (NITDA Levy), Education Tax (or Tertiary Education Tax), National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Company Income Tax (CIT), Television and Radio License Fee, Local Content Levy and Stamp duty, among others.
The Director-General of NECA, Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde, lamented that the action will not only reduce the competitiveness of the industries but will also increase the cost of doing business and further reduce the potential sustainability.
Articulating factors that were already crushing the real sector, Oyerinde, said while debt and paucity of revenue are challenges that are acknowledged, businesses should not be made to suffer the lack of proper economic planning and political will that have pervaded successive administrations.
He said it was strange that at a time when the government should do all that was necessary to protect businesses from total collapse and reduce the increasing unemployment rate, there are proposals to further increase excise tax on select products, including spirits, alcoholic and non-alcoholic products.
Considering varied challenges faced by the real sector, which range from shortage of FOREX, stringent regulatory environment, and non-alignment of fiscal and monetary policies, Oyerinde, said the government would do well not to further burden the real sector with additional taxes and stringent regulatory environment.
While emphasising the need for the government not to over-burden enterprises, he recommended that as the “African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) comes into full swing, Nigeria cannot afford to become a dumping ground for cheap imported products because we have refused to protect local businesses.
“Over the years, we have urged the government to expand the tax net, take a bold step towards stopping the oil-theft industry, take more than a cursory look at national assets that are laying waste and address the national embarrassment called the petrol subsidy regime.
“There is no justification why the nation’s four refineries are still moribund after many Turn-Around-Maintenances (TAM). It will be counter-productive for the government to continue tightening the noose on legitimate businesses that are contributing to national growth, while there exist obvious wastages and inefficiency in government yet unattended to.
“As a panacea to the ever reducing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), rising unemployment and multi-facet revenue challenges, the government and its agencies must protect local businesses and make the operating environment more hospitable.”