Hoteliers in Lagos State have appealed to Lagos State governor, Mr Akinwumi Ambode, to scrap consumption tax and some other levies imposed on hoteliers operating in the state. Making the appeal, the President, Hoteliers Association of Nigeria (HAN), Lagos State chapter, Aare Tola Odunuga, noted that consumption tax and other levies have crippling effects on the businesses of hoteliers operating in the state. Odunuga, who noted that hoteliers were already paying five per cent VAT in addition to annual registration fees to Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, stated:
“Since his assumption of office, Governor Ambode has been doing a yeoman’s job, and not only that he is a listening governor, and he has already promised to look into this issue of multiple taxation which we have raised. We will like him to act on it very fast. We want consumption tax to be abolished, and after that we want other taxes we are asked to pay to be harmonized into one.
“We’ve already registered as hotel operators with Ministry of Tourism but unfortunately local government officials are fond of harassing us threatening to deal with us if we don’t register with them again and pay other taxes which state government is already collecting from us. This is multiple taxation and is killing our business, and this is why we want Governor Ambode to intervene.”
While recalling that the association has sent a delegation to the Lagos State House of Assembly and the state Ministry of Tourism over the issue, the HAN boss said that step was taken to demonstrate the level of seriousness hoteliers attached to the issue.
“Our delegation met the state commissioner for tourism, and the chairman, House Committee on Tourism, Hon. Desmond Elliot and both of them promised us that the state government will take action on the issues we have raised. Our appeal to Governor Ambode is that as he is stepping into his second year in office, he should grant us our heart requests. We want multiple taxation to be scrapped while all taxes we are to pay should be harmonized into one so that our members will be saved from harassment by officials from various local governments where our members operate. We want Governor Ambode to put in place policies that will help our business to thrive,” he declared.
The hoteliers’ chairman further enjoined Lagos State government to call to order consultants hired to collect taxes from hoteliers and other business operators in the state over their alleged handedness and extortion of hoteliers.
Odunuga said: “These consultants have become a bone in the throat of hoteliers. They extort our members at will and if you refuse to dance to their tune, they will threaten our members with closure of their business premises. At times in order to make money from us, they will tell a member that he is due to pay N800,000 as annual tax to the state government, but that they will reduce it by half, and that he will pay N200,000 to the government coffers, and the other N200,000 goes into their private pockets. These consultants are extortionists, we are tired of them.” On the issue of insecurity challenge facing the country, the hotelier urged both federal and state governments, including the police to develop closer relationship with hoteliers as part of efforts being made to combat the scourge in the country.
Odunuga further noted that both the hoteliers, police and the government have greater role to play in efforts being made to tackle insecurity in the country.
While urging government to regard hoteliers as partners in the campaign against terrorism, Odunuga who is also the Vice President, HAN, South West, said: “There is need for a greater collaboration between government and hoteliers at this critical moment of our national life when insecurity has become a source of concern to everybody, considering the vital role hoteliers play in the economic development of the nation, all hands must be on deck to ensure that the hospitality industry is not threatened by crime.”