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‘Parlous Infrastructure, limited export base, others threaten FDI’

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Experts have underscored the need for the government to work out modalities on how to accelerate investment in infrastructure through bonds and other activities that would stimulate long-term fundraising from the capital market. This, they said is to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country and boost job creation.

Besides, they called for a concerted effort towards diversifying the country’s export base through the promotion of non-oil exports and expansion of government fiscal sources to boost the economy.

Stakeholders who spoke during a panelist session at the just concluded Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) 2021 National Workshop held in Abuja, at the weekend, stated that Nigeria is currently in need of FDIs to grow the real sector and stimulate infrastructure development across priority sectors.

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Infrastructure bonds are borrowings to be invested in government funded infrastructure projects within a country. They are issued by governments or government authorised infrastructure companies or non-banking financial companies.

Specifically, Executive Secretary/CEO, Ogun State Security Trust Fund, Opeyemi Agbaje argued that the Nigerian economy has not recorded any meaningful growth since the 2016 recession, stressing the need for government and relevant stakeholders to implement policies that could attract investors into the country.

According to him, more focus on diversifying the nation’s trade export and expansion of government revenue base would attract investment inflows, tackle the nation’s lingering economic crisis and create more wealth for the people.

Agbaje pointed out that fiscal diversification involves the expansion of government fiscal sources and how targeted government spending can help stimulate broad economic transformation through investments in specific industries.

He said the government has accessed the financial market to raise capital to fill the budget gap but argued that those investment vehicles are not tied around mortgage backed securities that would inject capital into the economy.

He said: “The Nigerian economy has not increased more than two per cent since after the 2017 recession; it has continued on a negative territory and it is becoming a pattern.

“There must be something missing. We must identify the institutional voices and fill them. We need to go more fundamental on this less than two per cent growth.”

An economist, Biodun Adedipe listed critical issues that need the government’s attention to include: infrastructure development, increasing export capacity, job creation and output.

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He pointed out that if these three variables are rigorously measured frequently with incentives deployed in a creative manner, there would be a turnaround for the economy.

Adedipe noted that the current economic crisis has thrown up the broader and more deep-rooted issue of resource dependence and volatility.

He identified non-oil export as a leading priority for sustainable economic development, noting that expansion in this area would help to reduce pressure on the naira in the long run.

Therefore, he urged the government to create policies that would boost non-oil revenues and exportation.

The Managing Director of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Uche Orji said without massive investment in infrastructure, Nigeria may be deferring its economic development.

He pointed out that FGN bonds in the financial market constitute 75 per cent, noting that if those borrowing are not deployed for infrastructure development, it would not boost job creation in Nigeria.

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