Lagos, Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari gave the keynote address at the just concluded Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) 45th AGM which held from the 13th through 14th of September 2017 in the industrial hub of Lagos.
The president who was represented by the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed said government would continue to strive towards improving the overall business environment, through deepening the effort of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), simplifying the process of confirmation of companies’ names on the website of Corporate Affairs Commission ( CAC), maintaining that the visa-on-arrival policy has equally commenced to facilitate the entry of investors into the country.
He said his administration has also designed series of capacity development and funding initiatives to support Small and Medium Enterprises ( SMEs).
He noted that to further support the growth of the manufacturing sector, the federal government has issued executive orders on the promotion of transparency and efficiency business environment and on improving the patronage of locally made goods.
According to him, the federal government is also placing high priority to fixing infrastructure which is expected to reduce the cost of doing business in the country.
“This is evident in the huge capital allocation of N554 billion and N242 billion respectively to Ministries of Power, Works and Housing and Transportation in the 2017 budget. These investments have enabled the resumption of work on several stalled road, rail and power projects across the country,” he said.
|On his part, Nigeria’s vice president, Yemi Osinbajo who was represented by Dr. Okechukwu E. Elelamah, said the present government of the country has been trying to partner with Nigerian especially MSMEs which constitute about 80% of MAN membership. He noted that while it was true that Nigeria officially enters into recession in the year 2016, there were signs so many years ago that the Nigerian economy was highly in distress and that there was little the Buhari administration could do. He opined that past mismanagement and dwindling oil prices were major factors that pushed the economy into recession manufacturer in the country felt the pain.|
Elelamah said there is now enough reasons for MAN and its members to rejoice because the country is now out of recession, he pointed to the recent NBS report that the economy has started recording growth.
LEGISLATURE TO ASSIST MANUFACTURERS
Also speaking at the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria 45th AGM was the Senate President; he explained that the 0.55 per cent growth recently recorded by Nigeria economy is a reflection of the improved performances of certain key aspects of the economy in response to concerted government policies and interventions.
He said ” though, some may view this growth as relatively minimal, it is a strong indicator that we are gradually getting out of recession; and that with strategic policies and legislative interventions, the Nigerian economy will soon reclaim its position as the largest economy in Africa,” he said.
He added that the revitalization of the Nigerian economy has been the central theme of the 8th Senate’s Legislative Agenda, saying that with an estimated $900 billion infrastructure deficit, and a continuous slide in the price of crude oil, the state of the Nigerian economy is worrisome.
“The 8th Senate on this background, created its legislative agenda with its focal point on reviving the Nigerian economy. We mapped out economic priority bills, designed to create jobs and promote MSMEs growth with particular focus on creating an enabling business environment in Nigeria, infrastructure mobilisation, and access to capital and credit. In line with this agenda, we have passed the Electronic Transaction bill 2015, Bankruptcy and Insolvency bill 2015, the Credit Reporting Bill, The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission Bill, the Independent Warehouse Regulatory Agency Bill, the Secure Transactions in Movable Assets Bill, to name but a few of them. These Bills create new capital mobilisation scheme for SMEs, encourage access to credit, and reduce the potential for non-performing loans. We urge our manufacturers and SMEs to take full advantage of these new laws and expand their businesses,” he added.
His words, “Our economic growth can only be sustainable if we reduce our import dependency. In this stead, the manufacturing sector has the capacity to be our pillar of growth, by creating massive employment opportunities and increasing our GDP. The 8th Senate has rigorously pursued a campaign for Made-in-Nigeria products. We have also considered and created practical ways by which the government can show full support for Made-in-Nigeria goods. A strict application of this law will ensure that a substantial percentage of the N2.5 trillion set aside for capital expenditure in the budget is retained in the local economy for our manufacturers.
STAY AWAY FROM EPA
A former President of United Republic of Tanzania has advised MAN to be cautious with EPA, saying the agency is being used by western powers to “tie the hands of African manufacturers”. The EPA stands for EU-ECOWAS Economic Partnership Agreement . he said “MAN sees the proposed admission of Morocco into ECOWAS as equivalent to signing the EPA through the back door. We therefore urge the Federal government to vehemently oppose the move as it would spell doom to the productive sector of the economy,” he said.
Mr. Mkapa, who was the Guest Speaker at the MAN 2017 AGM said though, the EPA appears to represent something good but it prevents African manufacturers from being able to compete with their Western and Asian counterparts because they are not able to develop due to too many restrictions by agencies like the EPA, according to him this is limiting the ability of African country to develop industrially; he, therefore advices African countries to “Stay away from EPA” if they want their countries to develop technologically. He, however, commended manufacturers in Nigeria for enduring during the time of recession in the country; he said MAN has been a role model to other agencies in the country and beyond.