* Urge FG, AMAC to harmonise taxes
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Hotel Owners Forum Abuja (HOFA) has urged the federal government and the Abuja Metropolitan Area Council (AMAC) to find a way to harmonised taxes being charged hotel owners in the city.
It said the measure would ensure proper regulation of the hospitality industry and boost revenue generation for both government and Hotels.
The President of HOFA, Mrs. Ouwafunmilayo Kazeem, who made the plea yesterday, in Abuja, said before now, hotels used to pay about 29 different taxes, but with the Memorandum of Understanding signed with AMAC, the taxes were reduced to nine.
The taxes include: Radio and TV license, Sign Post, Liquor license, Mobile advert, Environmental sanitation and Tenement rate.
Others are Food Handlers Test, Premises Inspection, and Food Handling Inspection and Certification.
Kazeem, said that payment of taxes was not an issue for members of HOFA as they are law abiding citizens, adding that multiple taxation from different government agencies was negatively affecting the hospitality industry.
“We have different government agencies coming to collect same type of taxes. For example, AMAC and Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) on waste disposal and recently Public Health also came with taxes on food handling test and water.
“Each agency is claiming jurisdiction and we are suffering. Most time they come with security personnel and harass us and our customers in the name of tax collection.
“More so, AMAC and AEPB seems to be confused on specific areas of jurisdiction, because they cross each other’s boundary. AEPB is expected to handle the city centre and AMAC the suburbs like Apo, Nyanya Karimo, etc but they don’t stick to their areas.
“If everything and taxes can be aligned or harmonised so that when we pay once, then the government takes care of the other agencies, it would help us and the hospitality industry.
“However, thank God that President Tinubu has created a standalone Ministry of Tourism to ensure that the sector is given a 100 per cent concentration by the minister instead of the regular two in one Ministry,” Kazeem said.
According to the HOFA President, the solution to multiple taxation is what Tinubu is trying to do; ask us to pay one tax to government and government now takes care of AMAC, AEPB and others.
She added that such would automatically address duplication and multiple taxation in the hospitality industry and boost revenue generation for the government.
On sharp practices by some hotel owners, Kazeem alleged that there were some hotels that do not have name and signage, adding that they evade tax, because they are not known to AMAC, AEPB, FIRS and Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
“A lot of them told us that they don’t need to have a name or signage, but signage is very important for any establishment.
“We have complained to the Police, Department of State Services and Nigerian Immigration Services to address the matter.
“This is because a hotel with no name or signage may be a hub for criminals and criminal activities.
“I appeal to them to come and join HOFA, because the more the merrier the louder our voice when we are calling on government to help us.
“Hiding and evading tax can be very dangerous, because they day they will be fished out, they will pay what may eventually shut down their hotels.
“So I am appealing to every hotel owner still operating without proper licence and certification from CAC and not paying tax to please do the right thing,” Kazeem said.
The HOFA President further said it would be good for the government to put out an order directing the public, especially guests at hotels to properly identify themselves.
She stressed the reason for that was because, there are people who would not want to properly identify themselves and when you insist, they walk away to hotels with no name or sign post, making us to lose businesses.
“With the new standalone Tourism Ministry our Minister will focus and dedicate her time to tourism and hospitality. And by so doing, move the sector to the next level, and place Nigeria on the global map.
“Also, with the stand alone Ministry of Tourism, classification of hotels in the country will be achieved and harmonisation of room rate will be possible and obeyed by all hotel owners,” Kazeem said.