The Nigerian Employers’ Consultative Association has estimated the loss of investment and assets by the organised private sector as a result of the arson and looting that followed the recent #EndSARS protests across the country.
The President of NECA, Taiwo Adeniyi, while speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, said the estimation was based on findings from privately-owned businesses that had been affected by the massive destruction across the country.
According to him, the affected businesses are still stuttering from weakened growth and struggling to recover from the negative effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
Adeniyi said the destruction was affecting the businesses to meet financial obligations to creditors, employees and regulators.
He said, “Organised businesses became some of the victims of the colossal and barbaric destruction and vandalism of critical investment and assets by hoodlums.
“While the Lagos State Government estimated a loss of about N5tn and Plateau State Government estimated over N700bn, the total value of the economic loss to organised businesses nationwide could be in the region of over N5tn.
“From looted machineries, consumables, livestock, raw-materials, pharmaceutical products, luxury goods and cash to actual and wicked vandalism and destruction of walls, smashed and mutilated doors, glasses, damaged critical electricity infrastructures, burnt buildings and properties and looted stocks. The list is endless.
“The actual value in terms of financial, emotional and psychological loss suffered as a result of the arson and looting experienced by these businesses can only be imagined and the impact will linger for a long time.”
The NECA president noted that the proactive initiatives by the Governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, through tax-breaks and grants as well as other financial assistance from other stakeholders, had increased the confidence of the organised business.
However, it is critical that further initiatives need to be urgently put in place to ensure a quick return to economic normalcy across the country, he added.
Adeniyi urged the Federal Government to urgently make public details of its planned support for the businesses that were affected.
He suggested deliberate bail-out funds for verified businesses affected by the crisis and interventions that would help them get back to production, make them sustainable and competitive.
He also called for tax reliefs for the affected businesses in order to assist them to retain employees.
“While the additional window of penalty and interest waiver for businesses by the Federal Inland Revenue Services is commendable, what businesses really need at this critical period is substantial tax relief to enable them to stay afloat and also keep productive activities going,” he said.
“It is in our national interest to enable businesses to surmount the challenges of rising unemployment,” he said.
The NECA president said approval of funds from the Stabilisation Fund of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, among other possible measures, would help stabilise the system and stop further increase in unemployment rate.
He urged the government 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 bedevilling the country.