Apapa ports, infrastructure, taxes take centre stage as Lagos decides
Issues bordering on the quality of the business environment in Lagos, especially those relating to Apapa ports, parlous state of infrastructure and multiple taxation will form the bedrock of private sector’s decision on who becomes the next governor of the state.
Indeed, members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) had explained their involvement in the electioneering process, citing the need to protect their investments as well as ensure that the quality of governance is improved upon for sustainability.
According to the President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Babatunde Ruwase, the private sector remains a major stakeholder in Lagos State in terms of its internally generated revenue, job creation and the general advancement of the economy.
The operators expressed concerns on the state of the roads, and traffic congestion caused by trailers parked on the bridges as being responsible for the movement of goods within the state.
Indeed, a recent study by the OPS showed that the Nigerian economy is currently losing about N600 billion in customs revenue, estimated $10 billion (N3.06 trillion at N306.35/$1) on non-oil export and about N2.5 trillion corporate earnings across the sectors on a yearly basis, due to inefficiencies at the ports and access roads to the ports.
According to the study undertaken by LCCI, in collaboration with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and OPS made up of MAN, NECA, NACCIMA, NASME, NASSI, and Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), the chamber noted that the port reforms undertaken by the Federal Government are being frustrated by businesses and government agencies thriving from the inefficiency of the ports.
When asked to defend their manifestoes as it relates to the business environment and issue of multiple taxation, Lagos gubernatorial candidates had acknowledged the need to widen the tax net in the state in order to reduce the burden on the number of people and firms paying taxes.
Similarly, some of the candidates emphasised the need for regulators in the state to act as facilitators rather than as revenue generating agencies.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), said: “We need to get more people into the tax net by devising an efficient way to increase number of people in the tax net. Government needs to be very creative by pushing development in new areas so that people can come in.”
Public-Private partnership projects should be deployed for efficiency.
On his part, Jimi Agbaje of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) noted that only less than 50% of those expected to pay tax is paying.
“The way forward is to grow the economy and diversify the tax net. The health insurance is an additional tax on people living in Lagos. Amenities provided to people will determine how many people will come in. Regulatory agencies should be used to enhance the society rather than being used for revenue generation”, he added.
On Apapa gridlock, the candidates stressed that strict measures must be adopted to end the perennial gridlocks that had crippled business opportunities within the ports, stressing that the challenge would be tackled head-on when they assumed office as governor.
However, both candidates could not reach agreement on the specific date they would solve the perennial gridlock within Apapa Central Business District, CBD.
Speaking on the perennial traffic gridlock on Apapa-Oshodi expressway, Sanwo-Olu emphasised that his administration would solve the gridlock within the first 60 days of his administration because he had done the needed study on it.
While reeling out five things that would be done by his administration within the first two months, the APC candidate argued that the axis was important to his government and would restore its glory.
“Apapa is a nightmare and there are some individuals that we need to have strong conversation with. Those trucks were somewhere before now. So, we will go there and ensure they return to where they were. I don’t know the commercial entity that has caused the trailers to leave for the roads. We will reach out to Nigerian Port Authority, NPA so that they can return to the ports. We will embark on a pooling system. We will ask that the trailers should park outside the state and will only be allowed to come into Lagos when they are needed”, he added.