Lagos – The participants at a workshop on key government and private sector priorities for economic development have urged the Federal Government to ensure an investment climate that would attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
The workshop, organised by the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) and World Bank on Tuesday in Lagos, was to set the priorities for the President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term in office.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the workshop discussions also centered on priorities such as infrastructure, strengthening of institutions and improving access to finance.
The Executive Secretary of Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), Mr Eke Ubiji, said the government should ensure that interest rates charged by banks were reduced.
Ubiji explained that such would make small and medium enterprises to have access to finance.
He said that the issue of high charges remained a challenge to SME operators but urged the government to interface with commercial banks to bring down interest rates to a single digit.
Mr Paul Gbededo, Managing Director of Flour Mills Nigeria Plc., said the manufacturing sector had the ability to increase its quota to the Gross Domestic Product.
Gbededo said the sector could improve its contribution to the GDP from the current 9.4 per cent to as high as 30 per cent within the shortest possible period.
The managing director added that the manufacturing sector had the potential to boost the nation’s competitiveness in the global market.
He said: “It is possible and doable. If we are talking about competitiveness, we should look at the manufacturing sector as whole.
“We should look at how we can get cheap capital for the sector’’.
The Chairman of Stanbic IBTC, Mrs Sola David-Borha, said those in charge of monetary and fiscal policies should work more harmoniously for the attainment of the priorities.
David-Borha said that there had always been continuous assurance from the government on its agenda and policies but it needed to be more transparent to attract more investors.
She added that once that was in place, there would be more liquidity in the system.
On financing the infrastructure deficit, David-Borha said that the government could embark on dedicated bond issuance for that purpose.
According to her, financing infrastructure deficit involves public-private partnership because of its capital intensive nature.
She said: “It has to be bankable in such a way that the risk associated with the projects will not be transferred to only the investors.’’
Mr Akin Ajibola, Partner, Akin Ajibola and Co, expressed the belief that the government still needed to strengthen institutions but noted that several regulators were trying in that capacity.
Ajibola said that there had been several policy somersaults over the years with almost no innovation in terms of policy that was dynamic.
He said the government also needed to adopt legislative approaches that would ensure a review of each sector in the economy.
Dr Jumoke Oduwole, Senior Special Assistant to Buhari on Industry, Trade and Investment, said the government understood all the challenges confronting businesses.
Oduwole said that government was being mindful of policies taken as solutions to the challenges militating against the country’s competitiveness without resulting in policy inconsistency.
She said that maintaining the country’s competitiveness was not only that of the government but that which called for partnership.
Oduwole added that there was need to continue to boost human capital apart from improving on infrastructure that would help to improve investment opportunities. (NAN)