’Compliance with ECOWAS protocol key to industrial growth’
As Nigeria looks forward to expanding its export market, the Nigerian Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), has tasked government on the need to ensure compliance of ECOWAS member countries to signed trade protocols as part of measures to address dumping of goods from developed countries in the region.
Indeed, NACCIMA noted that the commencement of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) within the West African region has necessitated the need to reiterate compliance to all protocols signed by ECOWAS to eliminate dumping of goods in the region if Nigeriaís growing industries would survive.
According to the chamber, Nigeria, being the largest economy in the sub-region and in the continent needs to recognize that the success of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) is dependent on governmentís commitment to the provision of basic infrastructural facilities in the country so as to make Nigerian products competitive in the West African market.
The Chamberís acting President, Chief Bassey Edem, while addressing a press conference on the state of the nation, sought commitment from the incoming administration in ensuring that Nigeriaís interest in well protected in the trade deal. Specifically, Edem stated that the expectations of private sector operators are very high considering the various electoral promises of the incoming government.
He said: ìThe incoming administration must ensure that the socio-economic programmes of their government are aimed at improving the lots of the Nigerian citizenry within the shortest possible time. This explains the call by the Organised Private Sector (OPS) for a policy dialogue session with the incoming administration.
A conducive business environment is very imperative for the growth of the business sector and overall improvement of the economy. ìThe incoming government should have a retrospective look and revert to the practice of having critical dialogue session with the private sector to discuss inputs into the nationís budgetary development process as was the norm in the past.
The need for this interaction has become imperative for a successful Public Private Partnership process to further develop our economyî. He noted that though outgoing administration had been applauded for ensuring privatization of the sector towards achieving stable power, the country however still grapples with unstable power output which hovers between 2,700MW and 3,500MW, despite huge investment by government.
There is need for the incoming administration to recognize the importance of power to the survival of the industries in this country and ensure that the reforms in the sector are improved upon so as to deliver to the generality of the Nigerian populace much desired stable power supplyî, he added.
He however stated that the continual retention of the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) at 13 per cent was worrisome and† affecting credit availability and liquidity creation from the commercial banks.
This continues to exact monetary shocks on the economy, thereby negatively influencing the level of investment in the country and endangering our ailing industries,î he said.
He advised the CBN to make effort towards reducing the MPR to single digit so as to have a reduced lending rate, pointing out that the apex bank should initiate policies that would create the enabling environment for investors to look inward for investment opportunities in the country. ì
There is also a need to pursue macro-economic policies, including fiscal prudence which is supported by good monetary policy to contain inflation at single digit,î he stressed.
He added that these challenges, have slowed down the realisation of the government transformation agenda and the nationís quest of becoming one of the twenty most industrialised nations in the world by the year 2020.
On interest rate, the NACCIMA acting president stated that currently, interest rate hovered between 18 and†28 per cent depending on the profile of the borrowing firms, which is too high for any productive venture and has negative effect on the global competitiveness of Nigerian firms and their products with their foreign counterparts. He pointed out that the inflation rate increased from 7.9 per cent as at December 2014 to 8.5 per cent as at today.
According to him, the interest situation was triggered by the austerity measures put in place by the federal government due to dwindling revenue from the crude oil which serves as the major foreign exchange source of revenue.
He said Nigeria, going forward, must diversify the economy from over-dependence on crude oil as the only strategy to effectively resuscitate and bring stability to the economy of the nation, maintaining that it was urgent and of great priority for the incoming government to intensify the diversification of Nigeriaís economy and avoid the negative consequences of volatile oil prices.
Government needs to work assiduously towards making the required investment that would boost the growth of other non-oil sectors, such as, agriculture, manufacturing, solid mineral development and transport, which hold greater prospect of yielding huge revenue for the economy if properly harnessed,î he said.
He advised that government to overhaul the existing refineries and encourage building of new ones, most especially modular ones all around the country to enable the country increase its refining capacity for local consumption, saying that this will support export of refined products, thereby maintaining local employment and saving the nationís foreign exchange used in the importation of refined products.