Human resources

Tax countries are poaching our human resources, Phillips Consulting tells FG

The founder and chairman of Phillips Consulting, Mr. Foluso Phillips, suggested over the weekend that Nigeria should start taxing countries extracting Nigeria’s human assets overseas.

He said the income tax collected by these countries should be shared with Nigeria “because of the investment we have made in training our people”.

According to him, “even for those who were trained abroad, each was funded by Nigerian parents. I know it would be a tough sell, but it’s such a loss for this country right now.

He spoke in Lagos at a conference on “Nigeria-US Trade Relations – Back to the Drawing Board” during the inauguration of the 19th National President of the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC), Dame Adebola Williams.

The leading business and management consultant who said that the essence of doing business with any country is to always promote made in Nigeria products, however, lamented that Nigeria has failed to develop the skill in its natural resources in order to be able to export raw materials.

According to him, it would be counterproductive to export the country’s raw materials without adding value to them.

He said this is what made South Africa stand out as it produces goods for export and added a lot of value to them.

He however said that the only areas where Nigeria is doing well in the world are areas such as fashion, art, entertainment industry, digital technology, design and intellectual engagement “in which the government has nothing to do with it.

“No need for licenses, permits, regulations or institutional roadblocks,” he said.

Citing data credited to the Federation of State Medical Boards, he observed that there are 3,895 Nigerian-trained doctors licensed to practice medicine in the United States.

Specifically, he added that Nigerians make up 1.7% of all registered international medical graduates.

“It was further revealed that 6,536 licenses were held by these 3,895 doctors, with the highest number of licenses issued by the states of Texas (11%), Georgia (7%) and New York (6% ).

“It’s not about facilitating access to our markets for the United States, it should be about what we can sell to them and ship to them as products or services from Nigeria, appreciating that the range of these products and services has expanded and comes from new sources within the economy.

“The job of the Chamber is to stimulate trade – our trade with the United States. The United States already knows how to access our market, we need to know how to access theirs for the nature of the products and services we provide.

“The United Kingdom and especially Canada have asked our young talents to emigrate to their country. Of course, they go after our best talents, and we all feel the pinch without exception.

“SMEs have become important to our economy extremely rapidly and the areas in which SMEs dominate are ignored because they are not traditional.

“Maybe it’s time for us not only to accept this situation, but also to start trading these skills as an asset of the country.”

The industrialist instructed the Chambers of Commerce to “change the paradigm of Nigeria’s trade policy, which has so far been challenged due to our industrial incapacities”.

“This is my proposal to all chambers and organizations that have assumed the responsibility of directing commerce, industry and commerce between our country and others. No help from state or national officials is needed.

“I’m not here to denigrate the United States – God forbid I love the United States, but I want to emphasize the essence of business in any country and that is to always promote your own products and under any circumstance without any apologies, and this is my first lesson or piece of advice to the Nigeria America chamber of commerce. This is to be proudly Nigerian. This is “Made in Nigeria”.

“Our starting point is to understand, appreciate and act on the concept of comparative advantage. Most countries have clear comparative advantages, which are usually driven by what nature provides in abundance and to which value must be added to create wealth for the nation. What is more important is the concept of building core competencies, which adds value to the comparative advantage you have. Skills are continually upgraded through the process of adding value to your natural resources in one form or another.

The chairperson of NACC, in her acceptance speech, pledged that the chamber would not slack off its activities to facilitate trade between Nigeria and the United States.

She however regretted that insecurity, corruption, poor road conditions and high inflation have frustrated business in Nigeria and average Nigerians.

“Putting food on the table has become so difficult. The rich really cry,” she added.