While the coronavirus pandemic lingers, employers under the auspices of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take more specific steps in providing palliatives and support to organized businesses to avert massive job loss and loss of revenue to the government.
The group, which commended the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for various interventions and palliatives aimed at ensuring business continuity, however, argued that the implications of the pandemic on businesses could lead to the closure of companies, massive job loss and loss of revenue to government.
Noting that Nigeria was not in isolation, they advocated the same measures and a host of others that are being implemented globally by governments to ensure the continued survival of private businesses in their climes.
While they stressed that this could be replicated in Nigeria, they mentioned governments in other climes that have taken specific measures to protect local industries and guarantee job security for their citizens.
In a letter addressed to Buhari, signed by the president of NECA, Timothy Olawale and obtained by The Guardian, they said the loss of revenue to government through payment of taxes, increase in social vices and increased insecurity among others would lead the nation to further economic crisis.
On some specific initiatives sought, the employers called for a temporary scheme for paying compensation to companies at risk of laying-off in order to retain jobs.
They maintained the support was to aid the continued existence of companies and to prevent lay-offs within private companies facing financial pressures as a result of the deadly disease.
Under the scheme, which could last for the next three months, they said government would cover 60 percent of the salaries of employees paid on a monthly basis, who would otherwise have been sacked, while companies would pay the remaining 40 percent.
The association also sought government’s support to negotiate and reschedule bank loans to aid in boosting businesses, and also afford adequate time for payment, especially loans taken by companies within the past three months.
To protect local industries and guarantee job security, they also asked for the suspension of payments of taxes and levies.
“The coronavirus pandemic has affected business circles and activities, with the real sector facing the risk of total shut down. There are no imports and exports, sales are down and production at almost zero levels. At the same time, workers are expected to be paid and other commitments honored by the businesses.
“Tax-free cash flow boost for employers – A stimulus package to help pay wages or for investment to protect against a downturn in activity. The payment should be open to businesses with a turnover of less than N50 million.
“Government should allow for tax payment deferrals more flexible for a period of six months, upon request, with a discount on interest rates.
“Special focus should be given to sectors that are worst hit: aviation, hospitality, manufacturing, retails, tourism, food, and beverage among others. The government could collaborate with NECA as the representative body of organized business to implement stimulus packages that are sector-specific.
“To encourage disclosure and contain the spread of the virus, the Government should institute payment support for employees both in the Public and Private sector who are self-isolating and for those diagnosed with the virus, the payment will be made for the duration of illness. This will encourage those that have contacted the disease to voluntarily report”, the letter read in part.