Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, has identified the key to getting Nigeria out of recession.
Osinbajo, in his opening remarks at the Second Presidential Business Forum, a platform to engage and interact with the private sector to keep it abreast with government’s policies, programmes and activities, assured that the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration recognized the private sector as a key out of the recession and is paying great attention to sustaining private sector leadership, especially in the plan of economic recovery and growth in 2017, which is to be launched next month.
This was even as the Organised Private Sector (OPS) has said despite the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s directive to banks to make available 60 per cent of foreign exchange to manufacturers, the sector still faces hurdles in accessing the funds.
“The pivot of that plan is the private sector led recovery growth and plan.
“So, this Forum is an important one for engendering the continuous engagement that this partnership will entail,” he said.
The President of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Frank Udemba Jacobs, who made presentation on behalf of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) at the event, noted that the challenge the policy was currently facing was inadequate monitoring mechanism to ensure that the policy achieves its desired result of allocating the stipulated percentage of Forex to bonafide manufacturers.
He then called on the CBN to ensure that the 60 per cent concessionary forex allocation to the manufacturing sector for raw materials and machinery importation is strictly implemented.
He called on the government to ensure the review of the list of 41 items banned by the CBN from accessing FX in the interbank forex market, with the aim of removing raw materials that cannot be sourced locally.
Jacobs, who said the presentation was jointly prepared by MAN, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (NASME) and Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industries (NASSI), listed 12 ways that would assist government to achieve its objectives of reviving the economy, revitalising the industrial sector, growing MSMEs and creating jobs for its citizenry.
He said while OPS supported governments economic diversification and
resource-based industrialisation policy, it advocated for policy consistency and coherence in order to achieve sustainability of this policy thrust.
“We strongly recommend that all major economic policies of government geared towards diversification of the economy should be backed by law to ensure commitment and prevent reversals.
“To encourage non-oil export, we suggest that government should diversify the utilization of the Negotiable Duty Credit Certificate (NDCC) to include payment of other government taxes and levies in order to reduce the pressure on the Nigeria Customs Service which is currently the only collecting agency.
“We also recommend that the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) should be the pillar of the effort at diversifying the economy.”
Jacob, while making strong case for patronage of locally produced items to create employment and encourage local manufacturers, noted that the nation’s expenditure in favour of imported products is detrimental to the growth of local industry as it increases employment in the country of origin and simultaneously increases poverty in our land.
He advocated that the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) threshold for local companies/suppliers “which currently stands at N1 billion for works and N100 million for goods should be adjusted to N30 billion for works to reflect the current realities of the economy.”
The 12 challenges listed by the OPS include access to foreign exchange; diversification of the economy and resource-based industrialisation; long term funding; EU/ECOWAS Economic Partnership Agreement; patronage of Made-in-Nigeria products and enforcement of the Procurement Act; and collapse of basic infrastructure facilities.
Others are challenges with policy environment; low investment in agriculture and agro-allied businesses; prohibitive gas pricing for industrial users and wrong classification as commercial users; multiple levies by government agencies on same sales promotion; and invasion of premises of members for the purpose of collecting taxes.