The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, has said the enhanced capacity of regulatory agencies, improved regulatory environment, regular provision of power are central to ease of doing business in Nigeria.
Speaking at the 129th Annual General Meeting of the LCCI, the President of LCCI, Chief Nike Akande called on the government to sustain the current reforms in such critical sectors as power, agriculture, solid minerals and oil and gas.
“The executive orders signed in May this year should be fully enforced to improve the way government does business and thereby improve the business environment. While we encourage more concessions, we expect that international best practices are duly adhered to in the process,” she said.
According to her beyond the GDP numbers and the exit from recession, what is paramount is the impact on the cost of doing business, productivity of the investors, competitiveness of firms and the sustainability of investments.
“And to the average Nigerian, what matters is the effect on welfare, especially food prices, cost of healthcare, transportation cost, power supply and the purchasing power. These are the considerations that would determine the extent and value of recovery. Remarkably, President Muhammadu Buhari, lent credence to this fact when he stated that,
“Until coming out of recession translates into a meaningful improvement in peoples’ lives, our work cannot be said to be done. We commend the government for the giant strides taken in achieving the feat.
“We believe that with more patronage, Nigerian Manufacturers will be encouraged to improve the quality of their products and become competitive globally. As the quality of our local production improves, local and international demand for them will increase. May I stress again, that for Nigeria to thrive and create jobs for the teeming population of our youths, there is a need for a paradigm shift from being a single product economy to sustainable economic diversification,” she stressed.
The outgoing president said that for the country to sustain the momentum of recovery and the current positive outlook, Nigeria needed to ensure the alignment of procurement policies at all levels of Government to support domestic investment and production, Investment policy that would protect domestic investors, tax policy that is investment friendly, Interest rate policy that supports investment growth, trade policy that will reduce cost of operations across sectors and reduction in multiplicity of exchange rates
She noted that while the chamber was concerned about the multiplicity of exchange rates, she also admitted that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, had been consistent in its intervention in the forex market.
“This has helped to reduce exchange rate volatility over the last two quarters. With the intervention, we have seen improved liquidity of forex and stability of Naira against the Dollar. Confidence is gradually returning to the forex market and we hope that this would be sustained,” she said.
Akande expressed the Chamber’s concern over the deplorable state of roads leading to the Lagos Ports – Apapa and Tincan Island Port, saying that ports account for over 60 percent of the cargo into the country and an estimated 70 percent of customs revenue.
“The poor state of the roads has had multifarious effects on the private sector, economy and the citizens. Some of these effects are as follows: Risk to the lives of citizens arising from containers falling off the trucks as a result of bad roads. Several lives have been lost in recent past as a result of this.
“Congestion at the ports resulting from the delay in the evacuation of cargo from the ports, high demurrage paid by importers to terminal operators and shipping companies as a result of delay in the clearance and evacuation of cargo in the ports, high cost of transportation for evacuating cargo because of the prolonged engagement of the trucks by importers arising from the delays, traffic congestion along the roads leading to the ports, which often spills over into the Lagos metropolis causing severe traffic jam and loss of man hours in Lagos and
“Delays in getting raw materials and other inputs from the ports to the factory premises in Lagos and other parts of the country,” she lamented.
She said the Chamber acknowledged the steps being taken to fix roads, but there was a need for urgent palliative measures to sustain movement of traffic in this axis.