By Joseph Chibueze
Chairman of the Presidential Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms Committee, Taiwo Oyedele, and other stakeholders have called for tax holidays for businesses operating in Nigeria. The stakeholders spoke at the third National Advertising Conference (NAC), which ended at the weekend, in Abuja. They urged the Federal Government to consider tax holidays for some categories of businesses as part of its ongoing economic reforms. According to them, there are over 200 types of taxes in Nigeria out of which 60 are official. With challenges such as poor infrastructure, energy crisis and institutional corruption, they said, it is difficult for businesses to thrive.
The conference, which was had its theme: ‘Marketing Communication as an Enabler of National Transformation’ was organised by the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) in collaboration with the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), Media Independent Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MIPAN), Out-of-Home Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN), Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) and Experiential Marketing Association of Nigeria (EXMAN).
In a paper titled, ‘the current economic reality in Nigeria and imperatives of reform’, Oyedele said it would be impossible to do business in Nigeria and comply fully with all the laws and pay all the taxes. “That has not and will never help us,” he said, adding that revenue does not increase because the number of taxes has increased.
“Examples abound that the fewer the taxes, the more revenue you collect,” he explained. The tax expert noted that Nigerians no longer care about paying taxes not because they do not wish to but because they have been disappointed by their leaders. He said: “A tax study conducted three years ago by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) on the perception of whether you should pay your taxes, whether paying your taxes on time is right and whether evasion is punishable was very revealing. The result is that only 17 per cent of adults believe they should pay their taxes, 83 per cent will evade their taxes and not feel bad about it. It has not always been like that. The reason they said that is because they do not trust the government. Secondly, they are asking what they get for the taxes they have paid. They also said the process is too complex and corrupt.”
Also contributing, the Chief Executive Officer (designate) of NESG, Dr Tayo Adeyanju, asked: “How can a country defend 200 kinds of taxes with 60 of them official? Is it impossible? We have told the governors that this is not sustainable. Single-digit size of taxes will make a difference.
“We can also give nano-enterprises a tax leave of a few years and tell them – just do your business here in Nigeria, register your business here, get your BVN and your NIN. In a few years, what we call the informal sectors will move into the formal sector and when we are ready to tax them as they grow, they will have become viable entities in the country.”