Multiple taxation killing Nigerian SMEs, stakeholders tell FG

• As ACCI holds SME solution strategy conference

Stakeholders in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector has called on the Federal Government as a matter of urgency to bring sanity into the tax administration of the country in order to avert the total collapse of the economy due to tax suffocation of businesses.

Speaking on Monday in Abuja at the SME Conference and Exhibition Organized by the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), the President of the Chamber, Dr Al-Mujtaba Abubakar emphasized the need for government to give small businesses a breathing space with multiple taxation.

“As a Chamber and one of the foremost advocates for business in Nigeria, particularly in the SME space, I had on behalf of the Chamber written to Mr President last month on what SME operators considered the greatest hindrance.

“In our submission, we identified multiple taxation as the principal headache that is killing SMEs and in effect, deepening the unemployment crisis.

“We had proposed a legislation to harmonize taxation for SMEs. Our detailed submission also seeks a Presidential Executive Order collating all current incentives for SMEs and issuing directives for due compliance.

“I want to re-emphasise and strongly recommend that tax harmonization legislation should be preceded by a presidential Executive Order. This will enforce compliance with pro-SMEs initiatives and interventions of the government,” Abubakar noted.

On his part, the National President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Chief John Udeagbala, represented by Otunba Dele Oye said the government was not paying enough attention to SMEs.

“SMEs are the engine room of every nation. They play important and critical roles for the growth and development of every economy across the world.

“In Nigeria according to statistics, they contribute to 48% of national GDP, account for about 76% of business and 84% of employment.

“It is therefore important for the government at all levels to pay attention to the needs of the SMEs. This is to enable them fully harness their potentials as veritable vehicles of inclusive economic growth and development,” he stated.

Also speaking, the President of Hotel Owners Forum Abuja (HOFA), Barr. Dunno Kazeem, said the hospitality industry was one of the highest employers of labour in the FCT.

“With over 3000 employees, we happen to be the largest employer of labour in Abuja after the Federal government and we are also the largest provider of vocational training in the city,” she stated.

Kazeem lamented that “multiple taxation remains a huge cause for concern to SMEs like the hospitality sector amidst outdated laws.

“The government needs to streamline taxes across the different tiers of government,” adding that the Nigerian government tend to focus more on larger corporation with foreign investment at the detriment of SMEs whose activities are perceived to have an insignificant impact on the economy.

“Aside the general neglect by the government, the hospitality industry has been saddle with unimaginable multiple taxes and levies by the Federal, state and local governments which has brought a lot of conflicting responsibilities between the federal, state and local government.

“Tax payment apart, we are inundated with other different levies like the tenement rate, liquor license, environmental sanitation amongst others.

“We have become the burden bearer, mere cash cow or means of accomplishing internal generated revenue (IGR) hunting in states, all these are done irrespective of the viability status or survival of our businesses,” she complained.



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