By Olasunkanmi Onifade
Abuja, Aug. 20, 2020 The Guild of Medical Directors (GMD) has raised alarm over irregular multiple taxes by officials of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC).
In a statement on Thursday in Abuja, President of the GMD, Prof. Olufemi Babalola, said private hospitals in Abuja were charged exorbitant multiple taxes and levies.
Babalola said the hospital owners were taxed for things such as tenement rates, fumigation license, TV/Radio license and other bogus charges.
“Private hospitals in Abuja who have been suffering under the brunt of the economic woes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic are again under siege from AMAC.
“We are witnessing a desperate effort to collect money in a way we have never seen before.
“How can a hospital be asked to pay a bill of over N500,000 for TV/Radio license and N100,000 for fumigation?,” Babalola said.
He said hospitals in Abuja had only started reopening after the problems related to the Coronavirus, only for them to be rewarded with high multiple taxes.
Babalola said the council had a complete disregard for the issues being faced at this critical time.
“The amounts of money being demanded from hospitals in this current economic realities will definitely force many to close or pass on the money to needy patients.
” Countless meetings and decisions about these multiple taxes have not yielded any sensible resolution.
“The GMD wrote a formal letter to the AMAC Chairman in 2019, intimating him that issues to do with taxation were still under consideration,” he said.
Babalola said the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Enihare, had set up a committee to look into the matter, adding that the council still sent its official and even police officers to harass hospital staff and patients.
He said AMAC had wrong assumption that private hospitals made a lot of money during the pandemic not knowing that many had stopped operating.
“Many hospitals have already shutdown under the weight of this pandemic. Some may not even bother to open again with this kind of cold hearted revenue drive.
“We honestly cannot afford for more hospitals to close at this critical time.
“Majority of the private hospitals in FCT serve the citizens in the suburbs where there are limited access to care,” Babalola said.
He, however, said the public was hereby put on notice that the development would affect the cost of care in Abuja and make healthcare unaffordable for many.
Babalola called on the general public to take the matter up with the Chairman of the Area Council, adding that private hospitals would not be able to provide care for the majority of people in Abuja and its environs if the council did not stop.
He also appealed to the minister of health and well-meaning Nigerians to call the council to order.