By Esenvosa Izah, Lagos.
The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) says 2022 has been one of the most challenging years for organised businesses.
NECA’s Director-General, Mr Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde, said this in a statement on Tuesday in Lagos, while advising both the current and incoming governments on steps to take in the coming year.
He urged the government to explore other suggested policy options and adopt more robust, all-inclusive strategies.
Oyerinde expressed dismay over the long queues for petrol, while Nigerians were being compelled to buy fuel at “black market” rates, thereby fuelling inflation and economic hardship.
“Government must unravel the mystery surrounding the fuel subsidy and make pronouncement on a definitive plan to remove it.
“The incoming government should further reform the tax system to create incentives for payers and expand the tax net, rather than the current over-burdening of legitimate businesses.
“Consistency in the tax policy will improve stakeholders’ confidence, rather than the short-sighted attempt to sabotage the established roadmap set out in the 2022 Fiscal Policy Measures and Tariffs Amendments, which covers 2022 to 2024,” he said.
Oyerinde said that while it was gladdening to hear that government had jettisoned the proposed increases in excise tax, a more collaborative and evidence-driven approach should be adopted for future changes.
“We, therefore, urge the current and incoming government to explore policy options, as suggested, and adopt a more robust, all-inclusive strategy.
“Also, it should not only focus on the diversification of the economy, but also on the imperative to urgently reform the current fiscal structure to reflect fiscal federalism, promote healthy competition and drive productivity,” he said.
The director-general urged the government to address short-term appropriation for long-term infrastructure to avoid white elephant projects.
He advised government to create a template for assessing and evaluating the performance of regulatory agencies, as to national and business sustainability, among others.
“With government’s debt crossing the N41-trillion mark, the incoming government must make deliberate attempt to resist the urge to borrow, but should rather establish an accountability system that reduces the cost of governance, curb corruption and make budget padding almost impossible.
“We urge inclusiveness in policy design, implementation and monitoring.
“As the private sector is arguably the largest contributor in terms contributions to Gross Domestic Product, it is, therefore, imperative to include organised private sector in all economic-related decisions of various arms and tiers of government,“ Oyerinde said.