NACCIMA sets agenda for FG, urges economic stimulation, growth
The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) has urged a conscientious implementation of last year’s budget of recovery, a swift in-depth review of the projects and programmes in this year’s Appropriation Bill to genuinely identify questionable areas for debate or review, the thorny issue of budget funding and subsequent passage of the Bill within the first quarter of the year.
According to its president, Iyalode Alaba Lawson, these are key to resolving the challenge of infrastructural deficit faced by Nigerians and every sector of the economy.
Commending the activities of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) in improving the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria, Lawson told The Guardian that she expects consolidation of the gains already recorded through the formulation and implementation of sound economic policies and programmes.
While urging government to reduce the astronomically high interest rates, hovering around 17.86 per cent for Prime Lending and 31.39 per cent Maximum Lending, which continue to be detrimental to entrepreneurship development and business expansion, she lamented that the double digit inflation rate that now stands at 15.90 per cent remains a source of worry, especially in the light of rising unemployment, currently put at at 18.8 per cent.
She said: “We look forward to the expansion of the tax net to capture defaulting tax payers, while diligent tax payers in the real sector reap dividends, in form of improved infrastructure, waivers and other incentives that can attract current defaulters to become compliant citizens.
“These, in addition to an improved business environment, have the potential to bring about a reduction in the unemployment rate and encourage youth empowerment, while boosting the growth of SMEs and the implementation of the key activities in the Economic and Recovery and Growth Plan (2017-2020).”
Describing the agriculture sector as the largest employer of labour and a major contributor to the nation’s GDP, Lawson reiterated that it requires more government intervention this year to meet local and export demand for food and cash crops.
She stated: “The association’s deep interest in this sector’s ability to liberate the nation’s economy from the current quagmire it faces culminated in the first NACCIMA-NIRSAL Agriculture and Agribusiness Policy Linkage Conference held in Abuja in November last year, during which extensive discuss on maximising and encouraging investments in the sector were held.
“NACCIMA, once again, reiterates the call for a single digit interest rate for agriculture to promote commercial agriculture, agribusiness activities, as well as more incentives for local producers of agricultural machinery and equipment.”
Lawson added: “We are worried about the rising spate of insecurity, as this discourages investment in the economy by both local and foreign investors. “We hope for significant improvement in security through further strengthening of all our security agencies and efficient securing of our borders.
“It is pertinent to state that the recurring issue of scarcity of petroleum products, which results in untold hardship to citizens and businesses, who as a result of the inadequacies in the power sector, depend on petroleum products to run their businesses, is fast becoming an alarming trend.”
The NACCIMA boss called on relevant stakeholders to seek lasting solutions to the challenges in the petroleum sector to consider more effective temporary measures to assuage the difficulty being faced by Nigerians.She expressed the hope that the manufacturing and mining sectors of the economy would receive more attention from government through the implementation of policies, programmes, incentives and projects that engender the growth of small and large businesses, encourage more local and international investors and promote inclusive growth and development in all sectors of the economy.
For the economy to improve significantly, Lawson said it needs an increased growth rate of GDP, buoyed by the continuing stability of global prices of crude oil, which are currently above the budgetary targets.“We believe that GDP growth rate will average 3.5 per cent this year, in line with the prediction of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) 2018-2020.
“Inflation rate (Year on Year change) will continue to fall slowly, but will remain within double digits within the year, perhaps falling to as low as 12.5 per cent.“Unemployment rates will remain high and rise at a slower rate, but should stabilise in mid-2018, as increased Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), government spending and preferential lending rates to certain sectors of the economy begin to trickle down to the populace, in terms of job creation.
“As the ‘Voice of Nigerian Business,’ NACCIMA will continue to advocate for policies that advance a constructive and competitive atmosphere for the pursuit of enterprise,” she stated.
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