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COVID-19: Business operators call for govt grants, low-interest loans, tax relief

Nigeria’s economy may contract from coronavirus lockdown next quarter –NECA

Businesses that have been severely hit by the coronavirus crisis in the country are requesting a number of palliative measures including government grants, which will cater for between 50 to 70 per cent of employees’ salaries for the next four months.

According to the business operators, who shared their views in a survey conducted by the Nigerian Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) and released on Monday, temporary tax relief of up to six months will enable businesses to recover from shocks from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sectors worst hit by the crisis, according to the NECA report, comprise agriculture, aviation, farming and fishery, real estate, logistics, hotel, manufacturing as well as the leather and apparel industries.

The report, which surveyed 4,020 small, medium and large enterprises, noted that such measures would help employees retain their jobs.

“At this time, employers are faced with the difficult challenge of trying to sustain their businesses in the face of an economic downturn while also looking after the welfare of their employees.”

Read also: Nigerian Govt merges CAC and tax registration to enhance ease of doing business

Even though the business leaders acknowledged the policy measures announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), they maintained that they were operating in an ambience unfriendly to business with various bottlenecks threatening business survival.

They enjoined the Nigerian government to provide access to low-interest or zero-interest loans for the above sectors via its intervention funding windows at the CBN or the Bank of Industry.

Among other recommendations is creation of a trust to receive donations from public and private sectors’ players that will help provide aid to the enterprises for four months.

Equally, the business leaders advocated for “loan moratorium or loan-cancellation as the case may be on a case-by-case basis and incentives (tax rebates or direct patronage) for businesses that resists the pressure to lay off staff during the period.”

They noted that patronage of made-in-Nigeria goods would improve consumption and survival of local businesses.

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