BY GODDIE OFOSE, Lagos –
Tony Elumelu, Chairman of Heirs Holdings, has called for the restructuring of government regulations and taxation to support business growth in Nigeria. He made the call at the Lagos Business School Alumni Association 2017 Conference, held on Thursday, November 16, 2017. Elumelu, who was guest speaker at the occasion, spoke on the conference theme: The Effects of Multiple Government Regulations and Taxation on Business Growth in Nigeria”, emphasised the need for government to embark on radical approach that would shape behaviors of entrepreneurs and business owners towards payment of taxes in a more obligatory manner.
According to Elumelu, who is also Chairman of UBA Group and Transcorp Plc, “multiple regulations hinder business growth; and we need to regulate our tax laws and practices in a manner that would create enabling environments for businesses, particularly start-ups and SMEs to thrive in the economy. If taxes are well regulated for businesses, there would be increase in government revenue, more businesses would grow, thereby helping to curb unemployment and improving the economy significantly.”
He stressed the need for a comprehensive re-orientation exercise across all tax agencies that would ensure that officers have the right values required for the job and that due process is followed at all times in government regulations for businesses. “We should use tax as a dynamic fiscal tool to shape corporate behaviour and ensure that our business climate is conducive for investors to thrive for a more robust economy that will in turn increase the tax base,” he said.
Elumelu thanked the LBS for addressing real challenges that business communities face exemplified by choosing the topic of discourse, which is very vital to Nigeria’s economic growth. He applauded the institution’s faculty for helping to sharpen the competitiveness of professionals by bridging the gap in knowledge acquisition.
In his presentation of the Economic Outlook for 2018, Dr. Biodun Adedipe, Founder/Chief Consultant of B. Adedipe Associates, said that Nigeria should deviate from operating a mono-cultural economy which has proved detrimental to its growth. “While thinking of ways to grow our economy to a sustainable level, we must realise that mono-cultural economy has not helped our cause. Over dependence on hydro-carbon and imports have done more harm than good. Therefore, I strongly advocate import substitution because no country grows sustainably by importation alone. We must produce and grow locally to be self-sufficient, and we must create environments for small businesses to grow to attain that level,” he said.
Hamzat Ayodele Subair, Chairman of Lagos State Internal Revenue Service, who was represented by Tokunbo Akande, revealed that before now, the lack of viable data on financial record had hampered the process of effective tax systems in the state, and the rest of Nigeria. He however assured that the Lagos State Government, through its Internal Revenue Service, is working hard to harmonise its tax practices by creating a single billing system where each tax payer would have a complete list of his or her tax schedule to avoid multiplicity of tax systems and agents.
Taiwo Oyedele, Head of Tax and Corporate Advisory Services, PwC Nigeria, examined tax administration and taxation of businesses during the panel discussion, and revealed that the multiple arms of government had led to multiplicity of agencies which had replicated themselves in the nation’s tax systems. “The solution we need is to have sound institutions, put our best foot forward and coordination among all levels of government operations,” he said.
Prof. Olawale Ajai, LBS Faculty and Professor of legal, social and political environment of business was the conference chairman and he stated that business growth should generate economic growth for the nation, which is why citizens should encourage the growth of small scale businesses. “It is on policy makers to facilitate regulatory frameworks that would enable economic growth in Nigeria. A re-orientation of policy makers and tax administrators is critical to the nation’s economic success and we must collaborate and partner to bring about an enabling environment for local businesses,” he said.
Mrs Bola Adesola, President, Lagos Business School Alumni Association and MD/CEO Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria, expressed that part of the objectives of the association was to promote continuous education for members, support LBS in its aims and objectives, render service to society especially in the area of public and private management. She also welcomed the latest additions to the Alumni Association and urged them to continue taking the opportunities afforded to them and be ambassadors of the great institutions.
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