Reverse decline in FDI – LCCI urges govt

By The Citizen
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President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mrs. Nike has called for a reverse in declining flow of investments.

She urged the government to increase capital inflows, by relaxing foreign exchange policies to facilitate export proceeds'and diasporan remittances as well as foreign investments.

The LCC chief was reacting to a report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that the flow of investment into the country declined to $11.68billion (N2.3 trillion)  from $51.7billion (10.18trillion).

The report showed that all the three major components of investment, such as foreign direct investment, portfolio investment and other investments declined within a three-year period.

It said last year's drop was not unconnected with the tough economic environment resulting from the lower global oil price and the prevailing foreign exchange policies.

But Mrs Akande raised concern over the down trend in the stock market, lamenting that it is not showing any sign of abating as the market capitalisation has continued to tumble.

'As at March 18, the (NSE) All-Share Index and market capitalisation depreciated by 1.13 per cent at 25,694.79 and N8.839 trillion. The stock market performance is largely a reflection of the sentiments of investors in the larger economy,' she said.

The LCCI boss also lamented the worsening power supply across the country, noting that it continued to pose challenges to business operators, despite the tariff increase.

She regretted the high energy costs, especially the high expenditure on diesel and petrol for large and small businesses respectively as most businesses spend as much as between 15 and 25 per cent of their total operating cost on alternative power sources.

Mrs Akande stressed the need to explore alternative models of power provision which focuses on diversification of energy sources and decentralisation of power supply channels.

The high dependence on gas pipelines from the Niger Delta is charecterised by high vulnerability risks which the economy and the citizens can no longer bear, she added.

She said: 'To facilitate the adjustment, we urge the government to create an enabling environment that will enhance the capacity and productivity of private sector enterprises. The policy and institutional environment need to be enabling. There are numerous sectors of the economy which potentials are largely untapped. We believe that this is the time to look very closely at these various sectors in order to accelerate the economic diversification process.'

While calling on government to improve on the 'Ease of doing business', she recalled that Nigeria ranked 169 among 189 countries with Mauritius ranking 32 as the best in Africa.

She called for the speedy passage of Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), Solid Mineral Industry Reform Bill, Railway/ Rail Transport and Inland Waterways Bill. Others are Port Reform Bill, National Transport Commission Bill, Competition and Consumer Protection Bill and the Land Use Act Bill.

According to her the Organised Private Sector (OPS) believes that when the bills are passed into law, it will provide the much needed legal framework for economic diversification including support for the private sector to create economic opportunities in the country. According to her, the overall objective is for the nation to retain existing investment, attract new investors, create favourable business environment and boost current level of trade flows.

On the budget, she stressed the need to improve the budgetary process to ensure timely presentation and expeditious consideration by the National Assembly. She said: 'There are currently too much discretion on the part of both the executive and legislature on timing. There is need for framework that would be time bound as it is the practice in more advanced democracies. There should be statutory timeline for budget presentation; consideration by the National Assembly and assent by the President. If complied with, it would be beneficial for planning for public and private sectors; enhance faster delivery of infrastructure, reduce uncertainty. It also has the potential to enhance cash flow into the economy.' The Nation