The South East Chamber Of Commerce Industry , Mines and Agriculture (SECCIMA) has identified multiple taxation imposed on business operators in every state in the south east, as a major challenge to ease of doing business and a clog to economic development of the zone.
The group stated this during a Roundtable meeting on a Focal Group Discussion (FGD) on opportunities, threats and challenges for establishing accountable, transparent and inclusive domestic revenue mobilization reforms and service delivery in the Southeast states revenue mobilization strategies organised in partnership with DFID Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn(PERL) at Enugu Chamber of Commerce ,Industry Mines and Agriculture, recently.
The president of SECCIMA, John Udeagbala, who called for harmonization of taxes ,said the issue of multiple taxation in the states of the southeast had for a long time been in the front burner of their discuss with various governments as a major challenge to business operators in the states.
Udeagbala who was represented by Andy Uba immediate past president Aba Chamber of Commerce, said they have being discussing the issue of multiple taxation with PERL DFID and were able to state some of the issues and concerns they face regarding to multiple taxation.
” In the case of multiple taxation, yes various governments in the south east have being very helpful in trying to see that this issue of multiple taxation is harmonized, so that it can aid the ease of doing business in the south east, however we are asking that more need to be done because the issue is so complex that you may think that you have solved it but it is still there, all over the places so we are asking that the government of the south east should have a closer look at this issue and solve it once and for all, for investors to come into the zone”.
The organised private sector also called on various governments in the southeast to Harmonize all taxes payable to the government into a one stop shop so that business operators could pay to the government once a year to avoid the embarrassment given to business operators by workers of government agencies.
On the issue of transportation they advised that the government of the south east should come together and harmonize it in such a way that drivers carrying goods from one state in the zone to the other will not be disturbed based on taxes which they have paid in the other states.
The president said that the affect of multiple taxation to business operators in the zone are so much that one does not know where to start, it scares business partners away.
“You can see how the scale of economy is begins to go down because of lack of patronage, usually we have our neighbouring states that come to partner with us or to buy good from us, in economics it is cycle, when you produce you need to sale your commodities so it is the revenue out of those sales that you are going to use to buy raw material so that you can produce more but when these goods are sitting in your warehouses it affects businesses, so this multiple taxation especially the illegal ones has serious effect on ease of doing business in this zone.”
” the buyers or the customers or the consumers are not comfortable with the development especially when they have already paid. We understand very well the important of internally generated revenue of course the government needs fund to function and we support them in that, what we are asking is let it be uniform, and consistence so that we can be able to work efficiently and liaise with government in the entire south east so that we can help government in the drive”
Earlier, The Regional Team Leader PERL ECP. Ifeoma Chukwuma, who gave a short history of their achievements from 2016, said that the essence of the discussion revolves on understanding the accountability mechanism for government revenue mobilization.
According to her PERL was interested in knowing how much the organised private sector and the media know about what government is doing, how aware they are and how involved the private sector is in the drive to increase revenue .
“We are interested in knowing how the organised private sector is planning to better position themselves to engage, because when we started with the organised private sector, we meant to know that their major mandate was to lead in advocacy for business growth of the chambers but we also know that these business as they grow they are expected to pay taxes” she noted.
“The other questions was that when people pay taxes they also expect services to be delivered and we believe that beside civil servants the next biggest contributors to revenue generation in any state are the organised business operators. So how have they been coming together to encourage accountability, ask government to use these taxes for services”.
The meeting she said would enabled them learn and identify from the organised private sector gaps and bottlenecks that would determine PERL’s direction of support to the organised private sector since they are not into advocacy but on grounds to support platforms like south east chamber of commerce ,play the role of coordinating key actors around their constituency to be better able to engage both government and their constituencies.
The Regional Team leader said that Perl program is in what they call the 4th year which in the real senses is their final year hence they want to learn from their partners areas that need change so that in their 4th year planning it would be corrected to enable them hit the ground running from march to start executing their programs. “We are looking for issues around domestic revenue mobilization, we are lookin for opportunities for further engagement that is basically our objective to get our engagement for the year better structured”.