Businesses are in for some relief from conflicting penalties, taxes and levies in Lagos, as the state has abolished multiple inspections of business premises and workplaces by different agencies of the government.
To fill the gap, the state has put in place a team of trained inspectors drawn from relevant agencies and parastatals of the government to, who will undertake a joint inspection on health, environment, safety and security related issues, Rotimi Ogunleye, the commissioner for commerce, industry and cooperatives, said on Wednesday.
The implication is that agencies like Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA); Occupational and Health Safety, which is an inspectorate unit in the Ministry of Health; Lagos State Safety Commission, a parastatal under the Ministry of Special Duties; as well as the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, would no longer undertake separate inspections of any business premises or workplaces in the state.
This is expected to reduce cost, save time and strengthen self-compliance and monitoring. The government is also hopeful that the harmonisation of the inspection will encourage efficient, effective and professional approach as well as eradicate over-lapping functions of regulatory MDAs in the state.
The development followed months of engagement with the Organised Private Sector (OPS) which, over time, had been miffed over the imposition of multiple levies which, they often argued, are inimical to investments and growth of businesses in Nigeria’s biggest economy city-state.
Aside the general difficult operating environment in Nigeria where entrepreneurs provide their own power amid lack of other basic infrastructure, complaints of multiple taxes and levies are rife.
Nike Akande, president of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) during the recent meeting of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode with the enterprise community, bemoaned harassment of companies by the various agencies of the government, and the cruel manner in which the agents of state enforced the payment of these levies.
Ogunleye, the commerce and industry commissioner said the new approach by the government was in line with the need to continue to promote the manufacturing sector and encourage sustainable economic development.
“As you are aware, Lagos is a mega city with a burgeoning population of over 21 million people and it is Nigeria’s financial, commercial and industrial nerve centre with considerable number of manufacturing industries, more than 200 financial institutions and well over 8,000 recognised business concerns and commercial outlets,” he said.
Urging the OPS to cooperate with the new team, Ogunleye said “as a proactive government, we shall not rest on our oars knowing that the task of achieving a safer environment in our workplaces and attaining the goal of sustainable economic development require sound policies that will stand the test of time.”