In a recent workshop held in Asaba, stakeholders delved into the pressing issues concerning Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Delta State. One of the major hurdles identified was the burden of multiple taxation, along with the imposition of illegal levies, placing significant strains on these vital businesses.
Mr. Charles Ofulue, the Analysis Manager at Partnership Initiative in the Niger Delta (PIND), shed light on the distinct challenges faced by SMEs due to their size and nature. He emphasized that while government policies often treat SMEs on par with larger corporations, the reality is quite different. Small enterprises, particularly those in the agricultural sector, grapple with discriminatory tax rates, a multitude of taxes, and intricate tax regulations. Moreover, there is a lack of proper education and awareness about tax-related matters, which further compounds the problem.
Dr. Frank Nwugu, Executive Director of Delta State Board of Internal Revenue, and Bridget Anyafulu, a member of Delta State House of Assembly, acknowledged that there is existing legislation against multiple taxation in the state. However, they noted that enforcement has not been as rigorous as it should be.
SMEs are the backbone of Nigeria’s economy, constituting a staggering 96 percent of its economic activity. Their contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) are substantial. In response to the challenges faced by SMEs, stakeholders pledged to ensure that existing laws are not only enforced but also adapted to discourage multiple taxation or, ideally, minimize it to the lowest possible extent.
As the workshop concluded, stakeholders, including small business owners, representatives from state and local government bodies, tax agencies, trader organizations, and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), collectively recognized the pivotal role of SMEs as engines of growth and diversification. They expressed their commitment to devising a well-articulated economic strategy that will fortify the region’s economic landscape.