By Dipo Olowookere
The announcement of a planned 5-year tax relief for small businesses in Kwara State by the state government has continued to generate reactions across and outside the state.
At a lecture to mark the 50th anniversary of the state in Ilorin last week, it was disclosed that Governor Ahmed Abdulfatah had directed the Chairman of Kwara State Internal Revenue Service, Mr Murtala Awodun, to coordinate the process of the tax holiday.
According to Mr Ahmed, his administration took this step in order to boost entrepreneurship and eradicate poverty in the Kwara State, adding that it was also to facilitate economic growth and development of the state.
This tax waiver announcement has been applauded by business owners in and outside Kwara State.
A cross session of SME owners across the state and elsewhere told Business Post that the move showed that Governor Ahmed was aware of things killing businesses in the country.
They described the 5-year tax holiday as a welcome development and urged other state Governors, as well as the Federal Government, to follow suit, saying it would have a positive impact on the economy at large.
“This is what we have been clamouring for. What is the essence of killing new businesses with tax when you are supposed to nurture them to greatness? In developed countries, they give tax waivers so as to allow the enterprise mature and become big corporations, that is the ideal thing,” a ‘business centre’ operator in Ilorin, Kwara State capital, who identified herself as Mrs Kudi Lawal, told our correspondent.
Another business owner in Offa area of the state, Mr Fatai Raji, commended the Governor for the move, saying “this is fantastic. Watch it, businesses will survive in the state and new ones will spring up very fast because they will want to take advantage of this tax free window. In the end, the economy of Kwara State will improve positively. Mark my words, investors will rush into this state because of this tax holiday.”
However, a make-up artist in Lagos, Mrs Yetunde Sodeke, appealed to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State to emulate Governor Ahmed by giving tax waiver to SME owners in the metropolis.
She pointed out that the taxes paid by small business owners were making it difficult for many to survive, especially with the already high cost of living in the state.
“It is a common thing for the Lagos Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) to force you to pay tax for three years even as a first time payer. I do not know the rationale behind this. Even after that, local government will come with another tax as shop permit or so. There are also the LASAA people who disturb us for signposts. When you add these payments with the shop rent and other running cost like fuel for generator and others, it is very difficult for businesses to survive,” Mrs Sodeke told Business Post.
According to Chairman of the Kwara State Internal Revenue Service, Mr Murtala Awodun, report has shown that over 70 percent of small businesses die within the first five years of their existence.
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