By Lawrence Olaoye
Chairman, Heirs Holdings and a foremost investor in Nigerian economy, Tony Elumelu, has called on the federal government to streamline its tax regime for the nation to sustain the high World Bank rating in the area of ease of doing business.
Elumelu, who spoke with State House Correspondents after a private meeting with the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, said the latest rating of Nigeria as one of the top 10 reforming economy in the world was impressive and encouraging.
According to him, the latest rating would attract investors into the country but counseled against multiple taxation which he said could be a disincentive.
Asked his advise to government to strengthen the country’s World Bank ratings of its economy, Elumelu said “Everything that is done is good but I think we need to streamline out taxes; avoid multiple taxation. We need to have double taxation treaties with other countries so that Nigerian investors who go out to invest don’t pay double taxes and those who come here to invest don’t pay multiple taxes.
I think it’s good to make sure that our infrastructure works. I think the rule of law is extremely important, strong governance, contract accessibility, sanctity of contracts, property rights. These are things that drive where investors go to to invest.
Of course you know that the Central Bank (CBN) had addressed the foreign exchange issues. It was very high but now it’s affordable; it’s predictable; it’s available, so to speak for investors who want to plan and I’m happy what’s happening and you can see how the market is improving.”
On whether it was possible to further progress in the rating, the business mogul said “The fact that we moved up 24 places it should be significant and it gives us impetus and hope. If you know your child is doing well in school, you’ll say well done guy but we need you to do more. So I see us progressively improving.
And now as a country we now realize that this kind of rating is good but more importantly we need foreign investors and Nigerian investors to take advantage of this. You know the ordinary man on the street will say what does this mean. What this means is that we can have more investments and as we have more investments, we create more employment; as we create more employment, we get to create more jobs; as we create more jobs, we alleviate poverty and we begin to grow our economy and there will be prosperity, peace and happiness in our life.”
On his impression about the World Bank rating, he said “I’m very impressed with what is happening in our country. The ease of doing business ranking by the World Bank that moved Nigeria up in 24 places is very impressive and not just that and as top ten reforming country in the world. Counting Nigeria as one of the top ten reforming countries in the world is very impressive. So, I think things are getting better. I think we’re turning corners and things are getting better. I think Nigerians who have resolved to invest in the country will invest in Nigeria so that we can create employment and friends of Nigeria and global investors who are looking for a safe place to invest, a place rule of law is strong; a place where there is sanctity of contracts; a place where tax reforms regime is good, will come to invest in Nigeria.”