Local operators lament govt’s discriminatory business policies
TRADERS group, under the aegis of the Coalition of Markets and Traders Association, said some of the current policies of government at both the federal and state levels are not supporting local operators to reach their potential.
It also alleged that government had favoured foreign investors at the expense of local ones, who have been struggling under unfavourable conditions imposed on them by various policies.
According to them, notwithstanding the various taxes, fees and charges being collected by government at all levels, the provision of basic infrastructure in the market have become difficult, creating additional challenges to traders and their customers.
The President of the group Chief Nnamdi Nwigwe, said the coalition comprises the Association of Igbos in Commerce, Traders Rights Protection Initiative, Amalgamated Traders Association Lagos and The Market Leaders Association of Nigeria, in over 120 markets in Lagos State.
Nwigwe pointed out that while those foreign investors are given incentives ranging from tax, security, infrastructure and well-spaced land to site their plaza, the local ones that contribute significantly to the economy, with presence in almost all the major markets are ignored.
“We are talking about traders that do their businesses in over 120 markets in Lagos alone. You can now imagine the number of the traders across all the markets in the country. How many of the plazas that are owned by the foreign investors can you see all around Lagos? Yet these are favoured at our expense.
In some markets, there is no provision for convenience and even if we want to do it for ourselves, there is no space. But we pay taxes and worse still, multiple taxes, including fees and charges. We are not even accorded any dignity,” he said.
But in a communiqué at the end of the extraordinary general meeting of the group in Lagos, jointly signed by the associations that make up the body, they pointed out that as much as their members have been trying to carry out their legitimate business activities under a relatively conducive environment in some places, more need to be done by government at all levels to improve the business environment in Lagos State and other parts of the country to maximize their contributions.
“We commend some of the programmes introduced by the Lagos State and the Federal Governments to encourage commercial activities, especially the Small and Medium Enterprises.
“It is also important to note that on the other hand, some government policies at state and federal levels have dealt a deadly blow on the business and sources of survival of most traders.
“We totally support the recent move by the federal government to diversify the economy by investing in other non-oil sectors to salvage and grow the nation’s economy in response to the dwindling oil price in the international market. For us, we have also set machineries in motion to contribute towards revamping Nigeria’s economy.”
Nwigwe, who however, noted the activities of political jobbers and contractors in an effort to influence the trading community, warned against those parading themselves as leaders of market organizations under different names and defrauding unsuspecting politicians and political office seekers in the name of mobilizing market associations and traders.
“We are committed to ensuring that the right people are voted into power in the forthcoming elections, especially those that will be much committed to the needs and interest of the trading community, those that will be ready to improve the trading sector through friendly policies that will grow trade and develop the programmes we have articulated to improve the economy,” he said.