The Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Adeniyi Adebayo, says the Federal Government is committed to addressing challenges inhibiting investments and economic growth.
Adebayo spoke during the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Presidential Policy Dialogue on the Economy on Friday in Lagos.
He said that relevant government agencies were working assiduously on initiatives and programmes to solve key areas of concerns ranging from infrastructure, power supply to good road networks across the country.
According to him, other areas of focus are, initiatives to improve patronage, ease business environment, ease access and cost of finance, multiple taxation issues, among others.
The minister said that the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had achieved far-reaching reforms that had positively positioned the country on a growth trajectory.
He said that government would continue to engage the organised private sector on progress made in implementing the initiatives and strategies toward encouraging investment and easing the business environment.
“Our economic development largely depends on your participation and engagement in building a strong, sustainable and inclusive economy,” he said.
Adebayo expressed optimism that the business community would continue to leverage the initiatives to enhance their productivity, competitiveness and drive economic growth.
Also, the Managing Director, Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Mrs Hadiza Bala-Usman, said that efforts were being made to decongest the ports through designated trailer parks and effective call-up system.
She said that to drive efficiency, there was a need to expedite the procurement of scanners at the ports to fast-track examination, need for deep sea ports and an effective intermodal transport system.
Earlier, Mr Babatunde Ruwase, President of LCCI, said that the economic challenges in the country called for quick reforms.
“These are surely not the best of times for the Nigerian economy. The short term outlook of the key economic indices is not looking bright.
“As we all know, the major trigger of the economic downturn was the decline in oil price, as the economy is still largely dependent on oil sector, both for revenue and foreign exchange earnings,” Ruwase said.
He said that multiple taxation was still an issue for businesses, adding that recent announcement of increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) would further put pressure on businesses, as consumer’s purchasing power was weak.
According to him, the recent closure of the land borders holds enormous implications for cross-border economic activities around the country.
“While we share the concern of government on issues of security and smuggling, we believe that the indefinite closure of land borders is not the solution to the problem,” he said.
Ruwase called for a new funding model for road infrastructure development in the country, saying government should consider utilizing public-private partnership to bridge the gap.
According to him, there are numerous potentials that are yet untapped in the economy, and critical enablers of right mix of policies will achieve the desired outcomes.
Ruwase acknowledged some actions of government to promote economic diversification, stabilize foreign exchange market, and encourage small businesses.
He, however, said more work needed to be done, and called for regular engagement and communication on policy issues to ensure quality feedback and enrich policy-making process.
Also, Cosmas Maduka, Managing Director, Cosharis Motors, urged the government to revisit the policy that necessitates auto dealers to share information of car purchase owners with the Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
“The situation is stifling our business, most people do not purchase cars from us again but prefer to buy from small car dealers; if the directive will still stand, it should cut across all players in the industry, not some,” he said.
Maduka urged the government to review the nation’s auto policy towards strengthening production and industrialisation of the economy.