By Yinka Kolawole
Manufacturers have lamented that the multiplicity of taxes, levies and fees have continued to hamper the competitiveness of the Nigerian manufacturing sector in the global space.
Against the backdrop of the advent of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), this even puts Nigerian manufacturers at a disadvantage with their African counterparts, with the nation’s corporate tax rate at over 30 per cent well above the global average at 23.37 per cent and African average at 27.6 per cent.
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), the umbrella body of manufacturers in the country, lamented that the nation’s manufacturing sector is groaning under a multiplicity of taxes and levies, noting that over 30 of such different taxes, levies and fees are being charged by various government agencies.
According to MAN, the development has led to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) losing about nine per cent of their total income yearly, which runs into billions of naira, to such multiple charges.
Compounding the already difficult situation, MAN noted that there are about 17 new bills aimed at imposing more levies on the manufacturing sector currently before the National Assembly (NASS).
Speaking on the development, Director General, MAN, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, said: “As we speak, manufacturers pay over 30 different taxes, levies and fees to agencies of the Federal, State and Local Governments.
These include: Company Income Tax; Stamp Duties; Petroleum Profit Tax; Capital Gains Tax; Value Added Tax; Personal Income Tax; Withholding tax; Tertiary Education Tax; 1% of payroll contribution to NSITF; 10% of Payroll contribution to PenCom; 1% of payroll ITF Levy and National Information Development Levy.
Others are Cabotage Levy; Radio and TV Licenses; Police Special Trust Fund Tax Levy; Niger-Delta Development Commission Levy; National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure levy; Land Use Charge; Parking Fee; Consumption Tax; Road Tax; Standard Organization of Nigeria Fees; Nigeria Content Development Levy; NAFDAC Levy; Nigeria Health Insurance Authority contribution; Signage Fees.
MAN, over the years, has expressed dissatisfaction over continuous increases in taxes, excise duties, VAT and others because we believe that multiple taxes/levies/fees depress production in the manufacturing sector.
“No fewer than 17 bills, aimed at imposing more levies on the manufacturing sector, are pending in the National Assembly. These include the National Youth Service Corps Trust Fund Bill (seeking to take 1% of net profit), the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Trust Fund Bill (1% of net profit) and the 2% surcharge on all imports including raw materials, spares and machines).
“It is the preponderance of these taxes and unfriendly policy environment that constrain the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector in the global space and of course the reason for the current ranking of the country on the Ease of Doing Business Ranking.”
Also commenting on the tax burden, President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Ide John Udeagbala, said that the 2022 Finance Bill is an attempt by the government to add more financial burden on the private sector that is presently struggling to keep businesses afloat.
He warned: “Any further tax increases on businesses may simply lead to shutting down of many companies and worsen the already bad unemployment crisis in the country.
“It is barely two years now since the government raised the education tax from 2% to 2.5%, many companies are struggling to adjust to that and now the same is being raised to 3%. VAT has also been raised from 5% to 7.5% over the same period. This is besides over 50 other forms of taxes and levies being imposed on the organised private sector by Federal, State and Local Governments.
“There are yet other tax bills currently at the National Assembly seeking to impose taxes and levies on business establishments and companies, such as the NITDA levy, National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), and Company Income Tax (CIT), among others.”
In his reaction, Chief Executive Officer, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), Dr. Muda Yusuf, asserted that the nation’s current tax regime is stifling investment, noting that the corporate tax rate in Nigeria is the highest in the world.
Yusuf stated: “An economy that desires job creation, economic inclusion, investment growth and poverty reduction, should have an accommodating tax regime for investors.
“Corporate tax in Nigeria is 30%. But effective corporate tax is much more than that. There is tertiary education tax of 2.5% of the profit; NITDA Levy of 1% of profit; NASENI Levy of 0.25% of profit; Police Trust Fund Levy of 0.005% of profit. This brings effective corporate tax to about 34%. This rate is one of the highest in the world.
The average corporate tax rate for Africa is 27.6%; Asian average is 19.52%; European Union is 19.74% and the global average is 23.37%.”
On the way out of the conundrum, Ajayi-Kadir said: “Our expectation is that government will reduce to the barest minimum the incidences of a multiplicity of taxes and ensure that only approved taxes/levies/fees are charged; widen the tax net to capture those not currently paying taxes and consider reducing the various tax rates which have been the global trend in recent times to encourage investment inflow, particularly into the manufacturing sector.
“Taking a cue from key recommendations espoused in our MAN Blueprint 2.0 that was launched recently, the government should urgently consider reducing the corporate tax rate to 20 per cent to encourage investors in view of the various challenges being experienced by manufacturers, and coordinate the enforcement of compliance to Act 21 of 1998 on Taxes and Levies collectable by the three tiers of government.”
Also speaking on the way forward, Udeagbala said: “The government should find a way to reverse this trend by expanding tax-net to a greater number of taxable businesses and the working class and not increase tax rates as is being presently done.
“The focus should be for government agencies to search out companies that are not paying taxes presently to increase their tax base and not to suffocate businesses by increasing tax rates.”
On his part, Yusuf said: “This multitude of taxes is a crippling investment in the Nigerian economy. There is a need for an urgent review. The current tax regime is in conflict with the National Tax Policy which prescribes that there should be less emphasis on direct taxation in order to incentivise investment.”