Pharmacists across Nigeria have expressed displeasure over the federal government’s policies and poor regulations depriving their business from thriving in the environment, despite being a major player in the nation’s healthcare system.
They registered their dismay during the Annual Continuing Education Programme of the Association of Community Pharmacist of Nigeria (ACPN) Lagos State chapter held at the weekend, while they faulted the National Assembly on the passage of the finance bill, which they noted would bring more hardship to businesses and the economy at large.
Speaking at the event tagged: “Business Survival in a Rapidly Changing Environment,” the President, Pharmacy Society of Nigeria (PSN), Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, lamented that the current Nigerian environment is hostile to most businesses, as that of pharmaceutical business is worst because of the disorganised environment and poor regulation, which is enhanced by poor legislation.
He further described the environment as “really stifling and anti-business”, noting that the federal government must strengthen legislation, especially the pharmacy law, which has been in the National Assembly since 2011, and got approved in 2017 without the signature of the president, which is required to improve tightened regulation.
“We need to take away all those things that cause high cost of doing business. Nigeria is a high cost of environment from infrastructural deficit, power, road to multiple or sometimes duplicated double taxation to security and all sort of things that makes it difficult for people to do business in the country,” he maintained. He said the country does not have the right disposition which is not positive to businesses, as the governments at all level destroy and paralyse businesses, which sole aim is to help provide employment for the people and create wealth for the country to help the economy grow.
Also speaking, the Chairman, ACPN Lagos, Obideyi Olabanji Benedict lamented on the changes in the nation’s business environment, especially the finance bill which increased the VAT to 7.5 percent, noting that it would have adverse effect on businesses and companies, as they would pay excess tax regardless of whether they make profit or loss.He said the incursions of big foreign chains into the country’s pharmacy industry pose huge challenge to the local businesses.
“Again the challenges that are coming up now are the incursion of big foreign chains into our pharmacy business here. Most of the community pharmacists in Lagos and across Nigeria, about 75 percent of them are independent pharmacy with one branch, which they are running by themselves.
“Somebody has come with very cheap funds with absolutely no interest, so he already has the financial power to do the business more than the locals and it is likely that we might not be able to survive that terrain. This happened in South Africa and most of the developing countries had to close their businesses,” he explained.On his part, the Chairman of the occasion, Chris Ehimen urged the federal government to address its tax system, especially as new taxes are being introduced into the country, noting that it could impoverish the economy.
Meanwhile, consultant cardiologist, Dr. Ramon Moronkola who gave his lecture titled: “When numbers don’t add up”, said pharmacists have a role to play in reducing and managing diseases through quality treatment and follow ups after diagnosis, as majority of the countries population patronise community pharmacy first for their healthcare needs, as well as where most of the ailing conditions are detected.He said while pharmacists make referral to hospitals, too much of it could overburden the health workers, which is why the community pharmacists are placed with the responsibility of treating minor ailments to relief stress from the hospital.
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