Hotel Owners Association Abuja laments over the Nigerian economy and how greatly businesses have been affected as a result of imposed multiple taxation by the Nigerian government and the Municipal Area Council.
“The general operating environment is still very challenging for us. I have already made mention of the lull in business so far in 2015” says Mrs Bola Onigbogi, President of Abuja Hotel Owners Forum. “But our regulatory environment has not kept apace. We have been saddled with new regulations and tariffs that has made our operations very difficult, she lamented.
Addressing members during its annual event Friday, 11 December 2015 in Abuja, Mrs Onigbogi, President of the association said, “The year started with a 40% increase on our electricity tariffs. Then we were asked to pay an additional 5% of our revenues to a new body called “FCT Entertainment and Events Center Department”. We have also had to enter into discussions with Abuja Municipal Area Council to discuss some of the new Tariffs and taxes that they have levied on us this year. A combination of this punitive regulatory regime and low sales has resulted in a cocktail of hardship for Hotels in 2015.”
Speaking at the annual event organised by the association, Mrs Bola Onigbogi, President of the association said hoteliers are made the guinea pigs for every regulatory experiment. “Can we also ask that our regulators synchronize their activities amongst themselves? She asked. She then added that “The situation where we are billed from multiple agencies on the same item has to stop. A good example is the 5% entertainment fee which we have been asked to pay. What then is the use of paying VAT?”
Mrs Onigbogi went on to state that the continues squeezing of the hotel owners will be counter-productive to the socio-economic balance of Abuja.
“Our member hotels who have closed shop and laid off workers in their hundreds are a testament to this. A quick count of the amount of taxes that we pay shows that we pay up to 40 different taxes in Abuja. Can anyone survive this onslaught? Can any business thrive under this regulatory environment?”.
The association President also noted that businesses have been greatly affected as a result of the dwindling economic crisis after the general elections, “This year has not been a perfect year for the hotel industry in Abuja. Our sales and occupancy figures are dependent on the activities happening in the Abuja socio-economic environment. It will not take a genius to decode that with the elections and handover of government, things have been pretty slow in Abuja.
“We should remind our regulators that HOFA is a body of law-abiding corporate citizens. We will always live up to our civic responsibilities as stipulated by the law. But where we are confused as to the veracity of any regulation, we will be forced to ask for an interpretation from the appropriate quarter”. She concluded..