By Audrey Lotechukwu
MON, JULY 06 2020-theG&BJournal-The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called for ‘’specific intervention measures’’ for the hospitality sector in Nigeria as done for the other critical sectors affected by the shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Chamber, what currently exists in the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) is only a passing mention of the sector with no prescribed specific measures and budget.
‘’We propose that the measures outlined for the revival of the aviation sector (and more) should be replicated for the hospitality industry. The two sectors are closely related, complementary and interdependent,” the Chamber said in a statement made available to theG&BJournal Monday.
The Chamber recommended:
- Provision of single digit soft loans, with long term repayment plan.
- Creation of opportunities for restructuring of existing facilities with commercial banks and concessions on interest payments.
- Extend grant support including payroll support to the Hospitality industry and related services.
- Deferred payment of taxes and filing dates.
- One-year waiver of Land Use Charge and LASAA Advertisement Rates (Applicable to Lagos State)
- One Year waiver for Hotel Renewal Fees and other state levies and fees for Hotels and Resorts
- One-year waiver of Local Government fees and Permits
- Clear mandate to the Federal Ministry of Tourism and its state counterparts to ensure the realization of the foregoing deliverables.
‘’It is in the interest of the economy for the hospitality industry to be supported by the federal and state governments to recover from the devastating shocks inflicted by the COVID- 19 pandemic and the associated containment measures.’’
It said the hospitality sector in Nigeria is one of the most dynamic, innovative and fast-growing sectors of the economy before the shock of the pandemic. It is a labour intensive sector and therefore has employment elasticity.
‘’The shocks inflicted on the sector by the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated containment measures have been most devastating on the sector. A complementary sector of the economy- the aviation sector – was equally negatively impacted.’’
It also noted the collateral adverse impact on thousands of small businesses that are dependent on the hospitality business as suppliers or service providers.
‘’Poultry and fish farmers, for instance, have lamented the impact of the downturn of the hospitality business on their sales and profitability. The hospitality sector and restaurants are the biggest off takers of the poultry and fish products in the economy,’’ it said in the statement signed by its director general, Muda Yusuf.
The food and beverages sector experienced similar fate. The breweries and bottling companies have suffered a major hit as a result of the stumbling fortunes in the hospitality business. The sector is a one with diverse linkages across many sectors of the economy which explains the secondary transmission of the shocks to many other segments of the economy.
The value of the hospitality sector in Nigeria was estimated at N1.4 trillion as at 2019. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are currently at risk if an urgent rescue plan is not put in place for the sector. This is not a sector that should be allowed to go under.
‘’This underscores the need for the government to mainstream the hospitality sector in the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP),’’