The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has called on the Federal government to prioritize addressing the country’s security challenges and sustain targeted interventions in critical sectors of the economy.
President of the Chamber, Asiwaju (Dr.) Michael Olawale-Cole, while speaking during a media briefing on the state of the economy Q1 2023, stressed the importance of improving national security and fostering economic growth emphasizing the need for the government to tackle the issue of oil theft in order to boost oil exports and increase foreign exchange earnings.
He commended the government in its efforts to combat oil theft in the country urging on the need to intensify these efforts. Dr. Olawale Cole also emphasized that if such measures had been implemented earlier, the nation would have experienced significant economic gains over the years.
‘‘The federal government needs to focus on addressing the security challenges that have plagued the business community and negatively affected investment inflows. My hope is that this new political era will witness a marked improvement in terms of the state and fate of National security in Nigeria. The federal government also needs to sustain its targeted interventions in critical sectors such as Agriculture, Manufacturing, Export and Infrastructure.
‘‘We urge the government to keep track of plans to tackle the menace of oil theft to boost oil exports and earn more foreign exchange. We also commend the government for the effort made to date to combat the cartels involved in oil theft. If these efforts had started earlier, the nation would have made huge economic gains. The chamber therefore appeals to the government to intensify the efforts. ’’
Furthermore, the LCCI President expressed appreciation for the government’s recent policy reforms, including subsidy removal and exchange rate harmonization. He emphasized the importance of sustaining these policies, as they are expected to have a positive impact on investment, fiscal stability, and the external sector.
Speaking on the Petroleum industry, Dr. Olawale-Cole called for equal access to the foreign exchange market among all importers of petroleum products, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). He stressed the necessity of transparent pricing mechanisms to eliminate any form of exploitation. Additionally, he urged the government to introduce appropriate cushioning or palliative policies and measures to alleviate the impact of economic challenges on businesses and the general population.
‘‘We commend the government on the two policy reforms: subsidy removal and exchange rate harmonisation. We expect the policies to be sustained and impact positively on investment, fiscal and external sectors.
‘‘In a bid to ensure competition and eliminate unfair advantage, all importers of petroleum products, including NNPC Limited, must have equal access to the foreign exchange market. Also, we urge the government to ensure transparent pricing mechanisms to eliminate any form of exploitation. We expect the government to roll out appropriate cushioning or palliative policies and measures.
The LCCI President also advocated for the implementation of further policy reforms to improve the business environment, boost investor confidence, stimulate economic growth, create employment opportunities, and alleviate poverty. He specifically mentioned the need to continuously improve electricity supply, address issues regarding the profitability of power distribution companies (discos), and reduce consumption costs while resolving problems related to poor power generation.
‘‘Continuously improve electricity supply and resolve all issues on disco profitability and reduce consumption costs and address the problem of poor generation.’’
Dr. Olawale-Cole highlighted the adverse impact of inadequate infrastructure on logistics costs and supply chain disruptions. He commended the government’s efforts in improving infrastructure, such as the completion of the second Niger Bridge, and called for more similar developments that would benefit the organized private sector.
‘‘The cost of logistics has gone up due to the poor state of our roads and the inadequate connectivity amongst farms, factories, and markets. The LCCI would like to see more of such developments for the organized private sector’s benefit. To reduce the shocks from disruptions to supply chains for raw materials, manufacturers should be assisted with subsidized input and more allocation of forex for the importation of critical inputs. ’’
To support manufacturing, the LCCI president suggested providing subsidized inputs and allocating more foreign exchange for the importation of critical inputs, aiming to reduce the shocks from supply chain disruptions.
On the subject of the Nation’s Monetary Policy, Dr. Olawale-Cole recommended that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) continue providing targeted concessionary credit to the private sector, especially micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), while embarking on measures to control inflation through monetary tightening.
‘‘While the central bank of Nigeria (CBN) embarks on monetary tightening to tame inflation, it should ensure that targeted concessionary credit to the private sector is sustained for MSMEs. While all eyes are fixed on inflation and exchange rates management, the authorities must not lose sight of the unhealthy unemployment figure. ’’
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s recommendations aim to create an enabling environment for businesses, boost investor confidence, drive economic growth, generate employment opportunities, and ultimately alleviate poverty in Nigeria. It is hoped that the government will consider these suggestions and implement appropriate measures to address the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities for economic development.