By Miriam Humbe
President of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode has described as most serious and debilitating, the issue of uncoordinated and disjointed multiple taxation in Small and Medium Enterprises, (SMEs).
These according to him, are a manifestation of multiple taxation manifesting in many forms; corporate tax, stamp duties, property tax, tenement rate, infrastructure charges, environmental charges, water rates, to mention a few.
Kayode said this on Thursday while delivering a speech at opening ceremonies of the 13th Abuja International Trade and Exhibition Fair expected to hold in Abuja between September 26-October 7, 2018.
“While businesses must pay for municipal charges like water, waste, and power, it must especially for SMEs, be done in a way that does not as it is currently happening, hurt and stall the growth of SMEs and their profitability. It is when SMEs grow and prosper, that jobs may be created and employment generated.
“Secondly, it is, to say the least, shocking, that governments, at every level, continue to take up to 10-15% of part of loans granted to SMEs in the name of consent fees, stamp duties, title registration fees, filling fees at the Corporate Affairs Commission, (CAC), etc.
“While the banks also collect another 10% or more through administrative charges and documentation costs. All these have to stop in the interest of the economic development of this country. It does not make any sense to continue to tax business before profit. Companies whether big or small, whether SMEs or other, must pay tax to government. But the tax should be on profit. Not on business. And definitely not before the business is even done”, he said.
While speaking on the theme of the Trade Fair which is: Enhancing SMEs in Agribusiness through Innovative Technology, Kayode said, “One: agriculture is a serious business which must be taken seriously given our landmass and population. Two; innovative ideas and technology is the only way to enhance agricultural output and value addition; and three: Nigeria is an agricultural nation, whether in the rainforest of the west, the swamps of the south South or the Savannah of the North. As the organized private sector, we must not rest until our arable lands are brought into cultivation”.
FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello who described SMEs as the engine of growth, assuring that the FCT, will continue to support the Chamber because the Abuja Chamber of Commerce, revealed that private sector activities will henceforth, be held at the premises of the Abuja Trade Fair Complex to ease congestion in the city.
“That is why as an administration, we are now, as a matter of policy, encouraging all private sector activities within the city to be domiciled here and that is why you will notice that even the Eagle Square now will no longer be available for private sector activities. All the private sector activities will be pushed to the Abuja Chamber of Commerce.
While commending the doggedness of Nigerians, German Ambassador to Nigeria, Bernhard Schlagheck said: “The Germans are strong in is developing the culture of Small and Medium Enterprises and the private sector. But this is nothing new to Nigeria.
“There is really an impressive entrepreneurial spirit here. There are a lot of people interested in being active economically and I think they are very gifted, they are very talented. I know the conditions, the overall economic situations are sometimes harsh.
“They have improved somewhat but I think perhaps, that’s something for the government to do but I am very optimistic about the prospect of the Nigerian economy in the long run because there are so many people who have a entrepreneurial DNA. So I think, just trust your entrepreneurial spirit”.