The First Abuja Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) Conference and Exhibition participants have called for deliberate import-substitution policies and protectionism for local industries, especially Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
The participants made the call in a communiqué signed by Mr Olawale Rasheed, Executive Director, National Chamber Policy Centre (NCPC), Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), on Wednesday in Abuja.
The communiqué was issued at the end of the maiden conference, organised by ACCI on Aug. 16, which focused on “Solution Strategies for resolving tax, regulatory, packaging and logistics challenges facing SMEs in Nigeria”.
In view of challenges identified by participants, the communiqué recommended that MSMEs as economy drivers, making up 90 per cent of economic activities, government must support their growth as obtainable in India, China and emerging markets.
The communiqué requested that access to finance should be seamless, with loans made available to MSMEs at a single digit interest rate.
It called for harmonisation of business laws within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region to bring conformity into different systems of business regulation in the region.
It also called for a Presidential Executive Order to harmonise taxation for MSMEs to provide an enabling environment for businesses to thrive and improve Nigeria’s ranking on World Bank Ease of Doing Business.
“There is need for regular capacity building among MSMEs, implementation of the relevant section of the Finance Act 2020, specific technical training on standardisation, packaging and logistics and adherence to international standards by MSMEs.
“Regulatory authorities must develop friendly criteria for MSMEs, introduce tax holidays through different MSMEs categories, facilitate easy access to loan for MSMEs and flexible financing support and establish MSMEs Bank in Nigeria.
“Nigeria must domesticate all treaties, agreements and protocols by the government that support MSMEs growth and leverage huge potential in block chain technology, artificial intelligence and ICT,’’ it noted.
The communiqué, while calling for Rural Banking that could support MSMEs in rural areas grow their business, also emphasised on addressing insecurity in the country through multiple stakeholder engagements.
It, however, noted that government should support infrastructural development through public-private-partnership while innovations from MSMEs should be incentivised by the government and stakeholders.
It urged all stakeholders to carry out awareness creation and sensitization to multiple taxations.
The participants observed challenges faced by MSMEs as multiple taxations, logistics challenge, unfriendly banking regulations and policy inconsistency from regulatory agencies (example regular increment in energy tariff without notice) which disincentivise MSMEs.
Other challenges observed were poor access to finance and quality packaging, lack of access to local, regional and global markets, inadequate infrastructure and poor adaptation to modern technology and outdated tax regime.
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