Nigerian businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are asking for government grants that will cater to about 50 to 70 per cent of their workers’ salaries for the next four months. The business leaders, who shared their sentiments in a survey conducted by Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, said temporary tax relief for six months would help them to recover from the damage done to their businesses.
The findings of the survey released by NECA on Monday indicated that the hardest-hit enterprises operate in agriculture, farming and fisheries, aviation, textile, leather and apparel industries. Others operate in the real estate and logistics, hotel and manufacturing sectors.
These measures, according to about the 4,020 small, medium and large enterprises surveyed, will help them to retain jobs. “At this time, employers are faced with the difficult challenge of trying to sustain their businesses in the face of an economic downturn while also looking after the welfare of their employees,” the report said. While acknowledging the policy measures that had been announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the business leaders said they were operating in a seemingly unfriendly environment with many government bottlenecks hindering business survival.
They urged the government to provide access to low-interest or zero-interest loans to the aforementioned sectors through its intervention funding windows at the Central Bank of Nigeria or Bank of Industry. Other recommendations include the establishment of a trust to collect donations from public and private actors in order to provide assistance to enterprises for four months.
The business executives also advocated for “loan moratorium or loan-cancellation as the case may be on a case-by-case basis and incentives (tax rebates or direct patronage) for businesses that resists the pressure to lay off staff during the period.” According to them, patronage of Made-in-Nigeria goods would boost consumption and survival of local businesses.