PHCCIMA Says No To Sale Of NLNG…Advocates Sale Of Other Inefficient National Asset To Generate Money & Employment

By Anderson Hart

Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, PHCCIMA has strongly rejected plans by the federal government to put up for sale performing private sector run cash cows like the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas company, NLNG, advising that the federal government should rather look inwards to the many government assets under performing and inefficient for total or partial sale to generate needed money for government and contribute to the economy through proper private sector management that will bring about attendant increase in direct and indirect employment and added value chains.

President of Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Emi Membere-Otaji made this declaration during the monthly PHCCIMA Member’s general forum held in Port Harcourt. According to him, selling government assets is not totally different from the privatization programme started since President Obasanjo's tenure, but he however observed that the proposed sale of NLNG is generating so much reaction because the company in question is not only viable but enormously adding value to the economy of the country.

While reflecting on the statement credited to former CBN governor, Charles Soludo, the PHCCIMA helmsman posited that moribund and inefficient government firms need to be privatized transparently and the money not consumed on recurrent expenditures but on capital or alternatively transferred to the sovereign national fund, even as they must ensure that such sale is transparent and fairly valued. Moreso he advised that government should invoke the terms and condition for non performing assets previously privatized.

“If these national assets lying fallow are totally or partially sold and effectively managed well by privately run companies, they will generate strings of employment and boost the economy through value chains like we experienced with the former Eleme petrochemical Ltd that seamlessly graduated to the high resource base we have now as Indorama Petrochemical and Fertilizer Company”.

“NLNG as a cash cow should be left off the hook while the likes of the refineries, our moribund steel assets, and expired oil block licenses among others should be the focus if the federal government hopes to raise needed funds.

Speaking on recession in the country, the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce President noted that recession is caused by multitude of negative actions and inactions on the part of past and present governments, the plunged global oil prices, against the backdrop that Nigeria is a mono product exporting country and of course the challenges posed by the violence in the oil rich Niger Delta region.

He said the effect on the people and the country are harrowing even as the government with less money to spend is not spared. With these multiple strings of challenges, Membere-Otaji observed that it is more than evident that getting the country out of recession will not tag along the typical textbook format, but rather well thought-out, purpose designed policies and actions of government that will be premised on effective monitoring and evaluation to ensure compliance especially by agencies of government.

“The situation at hand is a wake-up call for government to do the needful by ensuring that businesses in the country are supported with palliatives so that more of them will not close shop and increase the unemployment pool and hardships” he said.

On security, Dr. Emi Membere-Otaji said, though security is both a global and national problem, PHCCIMA is committed to taking up the issues with the necessary law enforcement authorities and the state government to tackle the issues of security of lives and property in the state, even as Rivers state continues to hold its envious place as investors haven.

Speaking on tax related issues the PHCCIMA President advised various local governments and state authorities from incessant harassment of chamber members and the business community in the state, noting that as corporate bodies PHCCIMA members are entitled to pay legitimate taxes but should be considered at this crunchy times of economic recession. He however assured the mammoth crowd of PHCCIMA members that participated in the forum that PHCCIMA will meet with the Rivers state government to resolve the tax issues soon.

The Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce
members’ forum is a monthly meeting of PHCCIMA members aimed at promoting member businesses, highlighting vistas of economic opportunities and providing vital business information.

Highlight of the members' general forum include the unveiling of the 12th edition of Port Harcourt International Trade Fair, presentations by Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), and multinational financial institution, Grofin who has been in partnership with PHCCIMA for collateral free loan scheme and also featured exhibitions of made in Nigerian goods among others.