Major stakeholders in the Organised Private Sector (OPS) have given directions to the incoming administration of President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on ways to revamp the ailing economy and other issues confronting the country.
The OPS, which include the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agnculture (NACCIMA), Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO) and others, made this known at an event organised by the Commerce and Industry Correspondents Association of Nigeria (CICAN).
The event, which held yesterday May 25, at the MAN House, Ikeja, Lagos, has as theme: “Agenda Setting For the Incoming Federal Government Administration/Investiture of New Executive”.
First to speak was Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, the immediate past president, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), who feels that the rising debt profile, forex liquidity concerns, contracting disposable incomes, rising inflation, escalating unemployment, business disruptions and Investment uncertainties are like a clog in the wheels of Nigeria’s economy.
Mabogunje therefore, called on the new administration/policymakers to expeditiously develop a framework that would ensure the country has a well-diversified revenue base, as this would help macroeconomic stability.
“When we take a holistic view of the Nigerian economy, one cannot but be concerned about the challenges we face; the rising debt profile, forex liquidity concerns, contracting disposable incomes, rising inflation, escalating unemployment, business disruptions and Investment uncertainties.
“There is a need for policymakers to expeditiously develop a framework that will ensure the country has a well-diversified revenue base”, she said.
She emphasised that there is a need to deepen efforts to improve investment in human capital development, particularly education and health, as this would create mass employment of our teeming population, which in turn would have a positive effect on the current insecurity problems facing the country.
Mabogunje reminded the Chambers of Commerce of the numerous roles they have to play in the economies where they exist, such as; assist the development of commerce/trade and industry, provide support or oppose legislation that they feel would affect their members, provide information to members on their line of business, organise trade fairs, exhibitions, etc., to enhance commercial activities, Amongst others.
She also said that within the context of today’s theme, Chambers of Commerce and Business Associations play a significant role in advancing policy reform within their jurisdictions, and that these Chambers and Business Associations act to promote public policies that are in the best interest of business, in general.
With reference to CICAN, however, Mabogunje tasked the Media for policy advocacy to be truly effective, as the process of disseminating policy-related information through the communications media, especially where the aim is to effect action, a change of policy, or to alter the public’s view of issues cannot be over emphasised.
On his part, the MAN president, Otunba Meshioye Francis, ably represented by Ambrose Oruche, the Head, Communications, he said though MAN is an advocacy group and apolitical, they have expectations from the incoming government and look forward to working with them to accelerate the economic development of Nigeria, particularly the manufacturing sector.
Francis acknowledged that the magnitude of the responsibility awaiting the new administration is enormous and demanding high senses of determination, and resourcefulness, as almost all parts of the economy are presently in shambles and squarely squabbling in crisis.
He mentioned that these crises range from political and social rascality to arrays of economic imbalances, Economic imbalances in terms of multiple taxes, fees, and levies imposed by all tiers of government, forex scarcity, a bourgeoning borrowing interest rate, energy insecurity, and an infrastructural deficit in a highly inflationary environment.
Francis blamed all these on misaligned macroeconomic policy, policy misconceptions, negligence, and mismanagement, which has unimaginably negative impacts on the real sector, adding that the impact is graver among industries, especially manufacturing, which has been battling poor performance and is now on the verge of collapsing as a result of these challenges, especially taxes.
He believes that while the government indulges in tax increments to rake in more revenue, the action is highly counterproductive as this exerts much pressures on manufacturing and small and medium-scale businesses reducing their income, thereby affecting their tax-paying ability.
So, for him, the incoming government should in the first 100 days in office; “Reverse with immediate effect the 2023 fiscal policy measure that raises taxes on beverages and tobacco.
“Address the issue of multiple taxes in the country is paramount, then, the productive sector should be given maximum priority for the general good of all in terms of wealth and job creation for the Nation.
“Promote the use of local content by mandating the patronage of Made-in-Nigeria products by all government parastatals, agencies, and ministries.
“Revisit executive orders 003 and 004.
“Create a special window for forex allocation to the manufacturing sector.
“Identify and break the powerbroker militating against the completion of the Ajaokuta steel complex to make available raw materials for our steel and automobile industries.
“Provide incentives to encourage a rapid energy transition in the manufacturing industry.
“Give tariff preferential treatment to the motor vehicle and assembly sector pending the development of the iron and steel sector.
“Revisit and reactivate dormant export incentives
“Engage and dialogue with the key stakeholders in the manufacturing sector on overcoming the challenges troubling the sector”.
Further, that they should pay particular attention to this critical low-hanging fruit agenda with a deep sense of effective implementation and monitoring.
While saying this requires an unwavering and high spirit of commitment, dedication, and selflessness in public service delivery by the new administration, he equally enjoined the media to play a vital role in terms of accurate information dissemination to promote the growth of the manufacturing sector.
Dr. Chima C. Igwe, Former Ag. Director General and Chief Executive Officer, Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), stated that Commerce and Industry are the two sides of a coin, and are known as the key drivers of any economy while the media are strategic players in actualising both.
Igwe noted that for national growth and development, national security and economic recovery and diversification, research and development in the fields of science, engineering, technology and innovation must be at the forefront, because it is the very foundation of any successful industrial revolution and industrialisation.
He stressed that science, technology and innovation (STI) is a very crucial cross-cutting sector in all developmental efforts of any nation if it is to be sustainable and that It is mainly through the application of science, technology and innovation that a developing economy can grow to a developed economy by wealth creation for the nation and the citizens.
In setting agenda for the in-coming administration, he highlighted on different strategies for implementation using science and technology, which according to him many research institutes, private and public such as FIIRO have hundreds of technologies ready for commercialization via training of entrepreneurs and establishment of clusters and catalytic model plants/factories in various local government area/states ased on their raw materials of relative advantage, these government could leverage on to curb unemployment.
Industrialization/increased investment (local/foreign), is another strategy which he said the incoming administration should establish industries and training of entrepreneurs using using readily available techno-entrepreneurial programmes, this would increase industrialization, commerce and industry activities and investment in the country.
Insecurity/national emergencies for job creation/ wealth generation/emergency meals/food for Internally Displaced Persons(IDPs), with this he said there are process technologies in various research centres such as FIIRO for the production of ready-to-eat fortified foods for IDPs in security or disaster challenged areas and communities.
Also, food security/ infant nutrition Igwe explained, could be used to provide Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods(RUTFs) for management of malnutrition in children and infants, with this all food materials are processed, postharvest, and this would ensure availability at the right quantities and qualities all-year-round and food /nutrition security.
FIIRO for instance he said had concluded work and packaged a school feeding programme ready for implementation by government.