• Monday, July 22, 2024
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Nwuneli calls for removal of VAT on food, pharmaceuticals

food-itemsFederal Government has been urged to, henceforth, remove food and pharmaceutical products from the list of items that attract value added tax (VAT) as a result of the high poverty rate in the country.

The advice was given in Lagos Tuesday by Ndidi Nwuneli, founder of LEAP Africa and keynote speaker at the 4th anniversary lecture of J9Collective, a non-profit organisation.

Nwuneli, who spoke on the theme ‘SMEs, the engine room of the economy; who’s talking to them?’ said: “Nigeria is still a country with high rate of poverty. When you compare Nigeria with other countries, you discover that we spend so much on food in the country.

“The rate of poverty is very high. Elsewhere, there are goods that are not taxed because of their importance to the people; for instance, things like food, pharmaceuticals are not supposed to be taxed. These are essential commodities, and I want to call on the government to remove VAT from food and pharmaceuticals.”

The keynote speaker, who also is co-founder of AACE Food Processing and Distribution, an indigenous agro-processing company, challenged Nigerians to sufficiently believe in themselves and their abilities to create wealth rather than waiting for “manna from above.”

According to her, while foreign investors see wealth in Nigeria and actually come to reap big, many citizens of the country see no opportunities, let alone tapping into them.

“What makes me sad is that people are coming from outside to make a lot of money in Nigeria, yet, citizens of this country are running away, looking for survival outside.

“There’s huge money chasing entrepreneurs and they don’t see it. Many of them are not investment-ready. Many entrepreneurs can’t pay themselves salary and they are still at rudimentary stage year in, year out. We must stop complaining what government is doing or not doing, but we must have to take our destinies in our own hands,” she said.

In his remarks, Arthur Dieffeuthaler, commercial director, AirFrance KLM, said there was no better route to prosperity than entrepreneurship.

Using his company as an example, Dieffeuthaler noted that though it started as a small business, today, it had become one of the biggest airlines in the world, saying, “We strongly believe that SMEs can change people’s lives and change a country.”

Kunle Sonola, executive director, Union Bank, recalled some policies that helped some countries, such as India, Indonesia and Kenya, urging the Nigerian government to borrow a leaf from such countries.