By Dipo Olowookere
Chairman of Heirs Holdings, Mr Tony Elumelu, has appealed to government to urgently address the issue of multiple taxation in the country, pointing out that the problem has continued to hinder the growth of businesses in Nigeria.
Speaking on Thursday at the Lagos Business School Alumni Association 2017 Conference, the former Group Managing Director of United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc also noted that the restructuring of government regulations and taxation will go a long way in providing friendly environment to the business community as well as increase the revenue of government.
Mr 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.’
During his address, the Chairman of UBA Plc emphasized the need for government to embark on radical approach that would shape behaviours of entrepreneurs and business owners towards payment of taxes in a more obligatory manner.
According to Mr Elumelu, who also is the Chairman of Transcorp Plc, submitted that, “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.”
The business mogul stressed the need for a comprehensive reorientation 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.
Mr 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 also 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, advised Nigeria to 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.
On his part, Chairman of Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS), Mr Hamzat Ayodele Subair, 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 the LIRS, 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.
Head of Tax and Corporate Advisory Services at PwC Nigeria, Mr Taiwo Oyedele, 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.
LBS Faculty and Professor of Legal, Social and Political Environment of Business, Prof. Olawale Ajai, who was the Conference Chairman, stated that business growth should generate economic growth for the nation, which is why citizens should encourage the growth of small scale businesses.
According to him, “it is on policy makers to facilitate regulatory frameworks that would enable economic growth in Nigeria.”
“A reorientation 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 added.
On her part, President of Lagos Business School Alumni Association and MD/CEO Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria, Mrs Bola Adesola, expressed that 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.
Dean of Lagos Business School, Dr Enase Okonedo, thanked Mr Elumelu and the other speakers for the insight and knowledge shared.
She also expressed gratitude to the Alumni for their contributions to the school and society. She disclosed that Alumni had continuously contributed to education; renovated and built schools, and have been commended by government at all levels for their efforts.
She applauded their efforts at adding value to the society and encouraged them to be the change they want to see in society.
The 2017 Lagos Business School Alumni Association was hosted by Chief Executive Programme (CEP 24) and International Management Programme (IMP02) Classes.
Nonso Ezeh, CEP 24 Class President, and Oba Segun Aderemi, IMP02 Class President, thanked all the alumni present and extended their greetings to the institution for impacting positively on the society.
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