By NBF News

THE Federal Government has been urged to stop paying lip service to the promotion of non-oil sector of the economy to enthrone a new regime of business prosperity in the country.

The President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Femi Deru, made the call at the weekend, in Lagos saying government could promote the sector by tackling the challenges inhibiting its growth and for it to contribute to national revenue and foreign exchange.

According to Deru, who was the chairman at the launch of three books on import and export promotion, written by Mr. Obiora Madu, an international trade expert, government must ensure that the various statutory institutions mandated to cater for the export sector be reformed and better funded to become more effective.

'At a crucial time like this when the Nigerian economy is experiencing some form of recovery from the economic meltdown that has plagued many other economies, it has become imperative that we diversify the economy away from the over-dependence on oil and gas.

'The 2010 third Quarter Economic report of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) showed the oil sector generating N1, 502.04 billion (which is about 74.2 per cent of government's total revenue) while the non-oil receipts accounted for N521.54 billion (about 25.8 per cent). The dismal contribution of the non-oil sector to government revenue and foreign exchange of the country should make all stakeholders appreciate every efforts aimed at building the capacity of the non-oil sector to making it more vibrant and profitable.

'I join other stakeholders who are interested in development of the non-oil export sector to call on government to extend all needed finances for the sector to develop.

'The various statutory institutions like Nigerian Export-Import (NEXIM) and Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) mandated to cater for the export sector should be reformed and better funded to become more effective,' he said.

Deru, who commended the author for coming up with three books on international trade, further said: 'The difficulties experienced in managing import-export contracts, financing agro-commodity exports, logistics and supply chain management in Nigeria have made it imperative for something to be done urgently about these constraints. The non-tariff barriers that characterise trade across borders from Nigeria keep discouraging many business people from participating in trade with other countries, especially in the West Africa sub-region.

'Another challenge as regards exporting Nigerian goods across the borders concerns the price competiveness of these products which are produced at relatively higher production cost. This is caused by the failure of infrastructure like electricity, which almost all manufacturers have to provide at huge cost.

'The multiplicity of security and regulatory agencies at our ports create another form of discouragement to international trade. The non-oil sector needs a regime of consistent government policies on trade. Uncertainties in this area could increase the risks of involvement in international trade and discourage non-oil sector activities.'