Barely three days ago, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) announced a new directive; mandating landlords and property agents to charge six per cent stamp duty on all tenancy and lease agreements. Alongside that unwelcome announcement, the Lagos State Government approved a 46% fare increase of the Lagos bus service; creating more agitation for Nigerians already suffering through a pandemic. The protest whirlwind was yet to calm down when Nigerians awoke to news of the latest incentive of the Federal Government with regards to courier and logistics services in the country. The new guidelines, imposed by NIPOST, include increased costs of licenses for courier services and, expectedly, an increase in the price of delivered goods.
Stamp duty: FIRS insists house tenants must pay https://t.co/AaNi4O0vHh
— Nigerian Tribune (@nigeriantribune) July 23, 2020
Lagos bus service limited announce 46% fare increase, to use BRT lanes https://t.co/cebIHelUkd
— Nairametrics (@Nairametrics) July 21, 2020
According to the new charges by the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), businesses that provide international courier services like DHL, UPS and FEDEX, are expected to pay N20m for a new licence and N8m annually, and those offering national services are expected to pay N10m for licence and N4m yearly for renewal.
In addition, logistics companies operating within regions are expected to pay N5m for licence and N2m annually, and firms operating within states would get a licence for N2m while renewal costs N800,000. Courier firms running within cities are to pay N1m for licence and N400,000 annually. Small and Medium Enterprises would be receiving a licence for N250,000 while the annual renewal of the licence is N100,000.
According to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, the new regulation will strengthen the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) and safeguard the operations of courier and delivery services. However, Nigerians are having none of it and rightfully so. The new directive would make it extremely difficult if not impossible for a small logistics company to obtain a license; killing small businesses everywhere.
Dear @femigbaja, please block this needless policy by Nipost that will cripple thousands of small businesses. Thousands of young people have created their own jobs and are trying to just survive. This will kill thousands of #MSMEs. Please don’t let it happen. Counting on you sir. pic.twitter.com/33ucYLlVMb
— Dr. Dípò Awójídé (@OgbeniDipo) July 24, 2020
Just after the lifting of the lockdown it cost almost 1.9M to set up a delivery business as my fashion business wasn’t doing well. It’s not 3 months and I might be forced to shut down and go back to square one if this levy stands. Nigeria please ???. https://t.co/KSdzQS1u4J
— TAILOR MUSHROOM (@TailorMushroom) July 25, 2020
Many Nigerians also pointed out how in a similar pattern, the government had banned all motorcycles and ride-hailing operations; causing the shutdown of the likes of Gokada and an expansive loss of jobs.
NIPOST has just declared war on SMEs in Nigeria, sadly on the eve of the #LagosSMEbootcamp. Logistics has become a flashpoint of trade during COVID, many SMEs relying on it for transactions, & many youths who lost income elsewhere investing. What is happening is a tragedy. Thread
— Ayò Bánkólé (@AyoBankole) July 24, 2020
That's how they killed GoKada and co with useless policies. Thriving business that make life easier & create jobs. Nigeria is designed to frustrate you. ??♂️#SayNoToNipostFee
— ? (@EmelieASF) July 25, 2020
It goes without saying that this is a pointedly difficult time for everyone in the world, with the deadly coronavirus killing scores and all. Countries are seeking ways to ease the burden on their citizens, not looking to increase charges and impose more fees. Businesses are suffering significantly already, with most of them closed up and shifting to online-based service; courier a necessary part of their operations. With this new directive, it would make it almost impossible for small businesses to operate successfully.
The atmosphere is already stifling, the situation is already tough, and the Nigerian government seems to be making it even more so for Nigerians everywhere.
Toluwanimi Onakoya is a spirited writer, creative and videographer. Her biggest drive is to connect with people and depict tales using various forms of media.
Toluwanimi is available on Instagram and Twitter @nimi_onaks