Fidelity Bank harps on implementation of investment-friendly policies

Fidelity-Bank-Plc-Lagos-Head-OfficeWith the plummeting oil price currently trending at a six-year low of $40 per barrel‎, Fidelity Bank Plc, has called on the nation’s economic managers to seek alternative means of improving revenue generation by focusing on emerging business opportunities and implementing investment-friendly policies.

The Group Managing Director, Fidelity Bank Plc, Nnamdi Okonkwo, explained that Nigeria must seek ways to harness the emerging opportunities springing up in the nation’s agricultural, Information, Communication and Technology (ICT), ‎telecommunication and other promising sectors to achieve economic growth.

Okonkwo, during a breakfast meeting organised by the Nigerian-British‎ Chamber of Commerce (NBCC), said to achieve this, there is a need for an effective implementation of investment-friendly policies, strong government support in setting up institutional framework to create an enabling environment for these opportunities to be fully exploited. ‎

According to him, if there are rules guiding players in their respective industries, it will encourage more investors to invest in the economy. “Once the framework for operation in any sector is clear‎ and viable, the bank will support those sectors because banks are also in business to support economic growth”, he added. ‎

He said Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) growth has slowed on account of political risks and the plummeting oil price, pointing out that the economy grew by 2.35 per cent year on year as at second quarter in June 2015 from 3.96 per cent in the first quarter this year‎. “If you compare this with a 6.5 per cent growth rate in 2014, you will understand what has happened to Nigeria in the last 1 year.

The oil price has dropped about 60 per cent. Our economy is strongly tied to crude oil market conditions so anytime shale oil production come up, Nigeria catches cold.

Nigeria’s overdependence on oil has continued to plague the nation’s economic growth,” he said. ‎ He commended the present administration on the improvement in the nation’s power supply, saying that the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and companies would have saved‎ a lot of funds that will be used to drive other sectors of the economy. ‎ “We are also known as the SMEs’ bank of choice and we are also ready to support other areas of the economy.

Once other sectors become bankable, the risks become more acceptable, but once there is no framework, nobody will want to lend,” he said. The British Deputy High Commissioner, Ray Kyles, said the United Kingdom is planning ways to double the volume of trade between both countries, noting that the ‎the current percentage of British import to Nigeria is about 4.5 per cent. “We are half way in achieving our target and we think we can do a lot better.

One of my targets is to grow the percentage of British trade in terms of import into Nigeria and for that to happen, the business environment has to be an attractive level playing field. British government has divested and are not looking here because of corruption.

So this needs to be tackled, but we are confident that you have a President who is putting corruption right on top and centre as one of his goals to attract more Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs). ‎”I am one of the long lines representing the British government in Nigeria.

I want to create a modern approach to the relationship between Nigeria and the United Kingdom because Nigeria is going to bring high hope in terms of opportunities to reform the country through the present administration.” ‎ We will also look at ways where we can support businesses that would arise as a result of these opportunities to ensure economic growth and also attracting the hope of Nigeria’s investment in the UK.,” he added. ‎

The General Manager, Fidelity Bank Plc, Ken Opara ‎, said Fidelity bank has developed an SME academy to provide advisory services to SMEs on a one on one basis to equip SMEs with the required skills needed to sustain their businesses .

For us, the major thing is building capacity and also providing SMEs access to the market place through our online platforms and also to provide them with cluster lending for SMEs in clusters. SMEs are critical engines of economic growth.

The importance of SMEs cannot be over emphasised. Today, Nigeria has over 40 million SMES with each SME employing over 2 or 3 persons. You can imagine the volume of job opportunities that sector has created in the economy‎,” he stated.

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