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The Hotel Owners Forum in Abuja (HOFA) has said that consistent multiple taxation on hotels in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) could force them out of business.
Dr. Chike Ezeudeh, the President of HOFA, made the observation in an interview, on Thursday, in Abuja.
“ It is not easy when you have a business and you are confronted with over 25 different taxes to pay, with some of them as high as N500,000.
“The names of some of the taxes are so funny; they have what is called Bicycle and Cart levies, which is over N250,000.
“They also have `parking tax’, which is between N250,000 and N500,000; this is so frustrating.
“Most hotels cannot pay these taxes, and if they try to pay such, they will be out of business; no hotel business can survive after paying all these bills.
“The worst of it is that Abuja Metropolitan Area Council (AMAC) in the name of enforcing tax payment, will come with police and seal the hotels while international guests and others are in their rooms.’’
He said that such development was not good for the image of the hospitality industry in particular and the country in general.
“The enforcement strategy is crude; there is always a better way of doing things without inflicting hardship that will make business owners to close shop.’’
Ezeudeh said the forum comprised law-abiding members, adding that it would not prevent the government from generating its revenue.
The HOFA chief said, however, that such revenue generation should be done with human face.
According to him, it is unfortunate that AMAC alone has many levies and bills; but that hotel operators also need to survive in this harsh economy.
Ezeudeh said the new leadership of HOFA had started negotiating with the appropriate authorities.
The president said he had met with the Minister of the FCT, Malam Muhammad Bello, seeking the reduction and harmonisation of the numerous taxes, to allow hotel operators pay with ease.
“The minister is a kind person; he understands the plight of business owners in Abuja and promised to look into the issues.
“The truth is that when taxes are high, business owners may not be able to pay, and some unpatriotic officials will like to take bribe and write off some levies.
“There should be reduction and harmonisation of the taxes for hotel operators.
“If done, they will pay and not retrench their workers; this will boost the economy of the country,’’ Ezeudeh said.
The taxes and levies being paid by hotels owners in Abuja are entertainment, tenement, business premises and local council.
Others are billboard, Radio Permit, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Fire Service and many others. (NAN)
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