OPS estimates losses to #EndSARS protests at over N5trillion
• Recommends NSIA funds as a bailout for businesses
The Organised Private Sector (OPS), has estimated the total value of economic losses to businesses nationwide during the #EndSARS protests at over N5 trillion.
The group said the losses ranged from looted machinery, consumables, livestock, raw-materials, pharmaceutical products, luxury goods and cash to vandalism and destruction of walls, smashed and mutilated doors, glasses, damaged critical electricity infrastructure, burnt buildings and properties and looted stocks.
President, the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Taiwo Adeniyi, disclosed this day during a news conference on the state of the economy and impact of vandalism and destruction of business assets and properties by hoodlums during the EndSARS protests.
He said the actual value in terms of financial, emotional and psychological losses suffered as a result of the arson and looting experienced by these businesses could only be imagined, as the impact would linger for a long time.
He maintained that approval of funds from the stabilisation fund of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), among other possible measures would help stabilise the system and stop further increase in unemployment rate.
According to him, the recent events have deepened economic difficulties in Nigeria, further increasing the risk of investment in the economy as well as lowering growth prospects.
He also canvassed urgent initiatives to be put in place to ensure a quick return to economic normalcy nationwide, while urging the Federal Government to, without delay make public details of its planned support for the businesses that were affected.
Adeniyi sought deliberate bailout funds for verified businesses affected by the crisis as well as other programmes and interventions aimed at supporting these businesses to get back to production and remain sustainable and competitive in the long run.
He maintained that while the additional window of penalty and interest waiver for businesses by the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) was commendable, he said what businesses really needed at this critical period was substantial tax relief to enable them stay afloat and also keep productive activities going.
He said the proactive initiatives by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, through well-thought out tax-breaks, grants and other financial assistance from other stakeholders, have increased the confidence of organised businesses that better days are ahead.
He urged the government to fast-track the investigation and prosecution of those found culpable in the killing and harassment of innocent Nigerians, which led to the #EndSARS, and also the arrest and prosecution of the hooligans that perpetrated the wanton looting and destruction.
Adeniyi said: “While the wanton destruction of properties and loss of lives were regrettable, the factors that led to the protest and eventual hijack by hooligans should not be lost on us as a people. Greater efforts should be made to promote creativity, innovation, Technical and Vocational Skills Development and enterprise competitiveness as a way out of the spiralling unemployment rate, poverty and social dysfunction that is bedevilling our nation.
“It is expected that there will be a likely threshold of higher premium attached to the insurance cover of the properties destroyed during the unfortunate incident. We, therefore, call for intervention to reduce the risk for businesses as cash flow will be tremendously affected in this regard.”
While expressing sympathy to those who suffered a loss during the protests, he also harped on the restoration of peace and order to attract local and foreign investors, and pledged the OPS and NECA’s resolve to work with all stakeholders to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.