Change must begin with economy, says private sector
Stakeholders in the Organised Private Sector (OPS) have urged the President Buhari-led administration to implement its change agenda by focusing more on the economy, to avoid social problems triggered by hunger and poverty.
They noted that fiscal and monetary policies by the government were stifling operations in the real sector and that the effect was already snowballing into a big social problem with the closure of many enterprises, amid rising unemployment and underemployment.
The administration was also asked not to neglect the oil and gas sector, as it is needed to drive resources and infrastructure for industrialisation, especially in terms of oil receipts and gas for industrial use.
The Federal Government, however, has stated that measures are underway to develop the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper for the next three years, to avoid challenges currently being encountered by the private sector on government’s policy direction, even as it unveils plans to release additional N100 billion for capital expenditure in key sectors of the economy.
It also described output from the nation’s refineries as negligible, despite efforts to make them functional, adding that the proposed Dangote Refinery is expected to address the nation’s challenges in terms of petrochemical products, while addressing the huge expenditure on foreign exchange.
Speaking at a Presidential Policy Dialogue organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) in Lagos, yesterday, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the immediate task before the present administration is reduce fiscal, forex imbalances, lower interest rates, and increase lending to the real sector of the economy, to achieve rapid economic growth.
Osinbajo said other tasks under immediate priority included boosting dollar liquidity, curbing inflation and increasing Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) by sustaining enabling policies, aimed at encouraging Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and organising collaborative engagements with the private sector, to deepen the nation’s diversification efforts and create jobs directly and indirectly, to alleviate poverty.
Also speaking at the event, the County Director, African Development Bank (AfDB), Ousmane Dora, noted that Nigeria remains the biggest economy despite experiencing daunting economic times.
LCCI president, Dr. Nike Akande, said the economic situation calls for adjustments by all stakeholders, expressing confidence that the country would get over the current recession sooner than later.
The President, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, said the policy dialogue session came at a time when the nation was going through economic contractions with palpable consequences.
He said: “We are under no illusion that government can do it alone. And so, we would like to use this opportunity to reaffirm the private sector’s willingness to play its part.”
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