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ICSAN seeks expansion of foreign reserves to boost productivity

By Collins Olayinka, Abuja
28 June 2022   |   2:45 am
Robust foreign reserves will boost national productivity and engender a conducive environment for job creation initiatives to thrive, participants at the 2022 yearly public lecture

Robust foreign reserves will boost national productivity and engender a conducive environment for job creation initiatives to thrive, participants at the 2022 yearly public lecture of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria (ICSAN) have said.

While bemoaning the high rate of unemployment in Nigeria, the Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, who chaired the lecture, said the development could not be excused under the guise of global economic developments.

He explained: “The fact that the global economy witnessed COVID-19 and an economic meltdown are not enough reasons to justify the high unemployment rate in the country. Nigeria is a rich nation that should be able to harness its natural resources to provide jobs for our people.”

He added that with the disappearance of white-collar jobs, the skills sector had emerged as the most viable option for job creation.

“So, what the government is trying to do is to critically see how we can explore the skills sector to unlock the employment market in Nigeria. Waiting for the government to provide jobs for every citizen is no longer in tune with what is happening globally. What is happening now is that governments provide the necessary environment for self-employment initiatives to thrive. The people that have skills are the top earners in Europe and America.”

However, Keyamo recognised the importance of constant electricity supply in an effort at stimulating the economy for job creation to take place, saying, “we need a constant power supply to unlock macro, small and medium scale enterprises. Without an adequate power supply, entrepreneurship cannot thrive in Nigeria. One day, I think the Minister of Power should speak on the efforts the ministry is taking to make power available to Nigerians.”

On his part, ICSAN President, Taiwo Owokalade said the gathering was a platform aimed at bringing critical stakeholders together to brainstorm on how to expand Nigeria’s sources of income that can boost foreign reserves.

Speaking on, ‘External Reserves Dynamics and Governance Challenges in Nigeria, which was the theme of the conference, Owokalade said: “Our choice of the topic is to enable us to provide a higher platform for the cross-fertilisation of ideas and deepening of the narratives. As a growing economy with a huge population to attend to, the issue of the nation’s external reserve cannot be over-emphasized.

“To an extent, it is at the heart of the nation’s economy and our survival. Also, the act of nation-building cannot be detached from a very robust external reserve; both are connected. Our institute, therefore, desires to enrich this discussion to contribute our quota to nation-building.”

The Chief Executive Officer, Emerging Africa Capital Group, Mrs Toyin Sanni, submitted that Nigeria must restructure its economy to take advantage of the opportunities in the agricultural space or the solid mineral sector.

She stated: “We must retool and refocus the masses to become productive in the larger economic space because our greatest strength remains the resilience of our people. Nigeria needs to increase social investment that will stimulate labour productivity.”

A Professor of Development Economics and Data Analytics, Prof Bongo Adi, who delivered the lecture, declared that the main weakness over the years is that low levels of foreign reserves leave the system uninsured against external financial shocks, weakens the Naira exchange rate, and makes assets denominated in Naira poor stores of value or wealth.

He insisted that until Nigeria deepens the foreign exchange financing bucket by building up precautionary foreign reserves holding to levels that will strengthen the Naira enough to protect the store of the value attribute of the currency, financing buckets such as money, bonds or equity should be expected to deepen, as foreign currency denominated assets or real assets such as commodities or real estate would be better stores of wealth than any financial asset denominated in Naira.