Harmonising real sector’s strategy, government policy for growth
Activities within the nation’s political landscape seem set to be riddled with uncertainty for Nigeria’s private sector, especially in the commercial capital of Nigeria, Lagos state. Accounting for the bulk of transactions in the country, business domiciled in Lagos have decided to pay close attention to the manifestoes to see which party is likely to be in power come May and anticipate the policy decisions that could affect their ability to grow in the near future. At the recent debate organized by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), the governorship candidates for the All Progressive Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Lagos State unveiled their plans for the private sector. FEMI ADEKOYA writes.
AN effective political system is essential for doing business and can have an impact on the competitiveness of the Private Sector especially Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
In a federal system like Nigeria, the states are responsible for policy direction that may affect their competitiveness while also being responsible for providing a wide range of services to businesses enterprises in their environment.
With a relatively stable positive outlook projected for 2015, the private sector faces myriad challenges and potential barriers to expansion. From inconsistencies in policies and falling oil prices to an upcoming general election with no clear outcome, growth in 2015 is far from certain as revealed by indices from the private sector.
With election campaigning underway, businesses will be keen to see which policies are most likely to foster or stifle the climate for sustained growth.
On his part, the President of LCCI, Alhaji Remi Bello explained that Lagos State remains a strategic state to the Nigerian economy, being the commercial centre and cannot ignore the consequence of not enjoying quality governance from political office holders.
“Lagos has evolved to become a mega city with an estimated GDP of $91 billion. The private sector in Lagos State has become a major stakeholder having become the engine growth in the state considering its contributions to the state’s revenue, job creation and the general advancement of the economy of the state.
“The engagement process would guide our electoral decision because the quality of political governance has profound implications for the quality of investment environment. Without a conducive environment for business, there cannot be meaningful economic progress and the capacity to create jobs would be correspondingly inhibited”, he added.
Already, members of the organized private sector are seeking government’s intervention in the areas of logistics, tax relief and provision of key infrastructure to aid the growth of industrial firms.
Unveiling his plans, Agbaje stated that events in the global economy, especially in the oil industry may necessitate moves to be innovative in generating revenue for government while making the business environment yet friendly for the private sector.
According to him, Lagos State may lose its competitiveness if the ease of doing business is not addressed.
“A diversified economy is the answer without necessarily making the state’s business environment uncompetitive. We need to explore the ocean economy as well as the value-chain benefits of the processing sector. Expansion of infrastructure should not be concentrated in a particular area like the Eko Atlantic City project, rather, other areas should be considered in a bid to decongest some areas.
“Whilst we remain a commercial and industrial hub, there is little doubt that our economy can do a lot better. On-going expansion and upgrade of infrastructure must be accelerated to enhance the competitiveness of our economy and ultimately the creation of jobs for our people. The water resources of our State must be harnessed to add the dimensions of an „Ocean Economy‟ to our current character.
“I am clear that success in government will surely come through a robust relationship which enables the deployment of private capital, methodology and expertise to meeting the various challenges which our State faces.
Entrepreneurial Governance will be the approach of the PDP Administration inaugurated in Lagos after the forthcoming elections.
“Our approach is that while the government will provide direction, determine priorities and monitor performance, the private sector will, as far as possible, be charged with bringing our ideas to life. Enlargement of the Private Sector in this way will create work for our people and provide revenue to the government.
“Our Lagos cannot be comfortable knowing that about 70% of our people live in slums and unsuitable neighbourhoods. We envision a Lagos State where decent, affordable housing is available. We will ensure that our programme to upgrade slum areas brings succour to our people in the shortest possible time.
“As enviable as Public-Private Partnership may be, we need to ensure transparency of such agreements. We hope to address these issues if elected into office. We will also create a new economy, expand tax nets and address social needs as well as infrastructure for the benefit of all Lagosians”, he added.
On his part, Ambode promised to set up a Lagos Employment Trust Fund (LETF) with N25 billion over the next four years, adding that this will enhance access to finance of youths and unemployed people for entrepreneurial ventures.
“We will protect the growth of our small and medium scale enterprises by providing tax incentives. We will implement government policies that will encourage the private sector to employ more citizens and foster economic development”, he added.
To boost internally generated revenue (IGR) in the state, Ambode said the government would improve the collection mechanism through e-governance.
He also unveiled plans to pursue a fully integrated transport management system that combines roads, rail, water and walkways to ease the movement of residents in the city centres and the suburbs.
“We will introduce and establish officially designated bus stops/routes in Lagos. We will improve on traffic with the construction of new roads and maintenance of existing ones, as well as placing directional signs in strategic places. We will also increase the use of our waterways through channeling and dredging,” he said.
With the rising demand for housing in the state, Ambode promised to create communities that are self-sustainable across the state. He also said his administration will improve on the current policy of home ownership through Lagos HOMS and provide ownership options, such as Rent to Own Programme (ROP).
“This will allow for easy access and reduce congestion at the city centres. We will provide affordable housing schemes by collaborating, through Public Private Partnerships (PPP), to increase the available housing stock. “Our government will also improve on the current policy of home ownership through Lagos HOMS and provide ownership options, such as Rent to Own Program (ROP),” he said.
Although some key ideological differences exist between candidates, especially on issues bordering on regulation, taxation, government support for business and the availability of skilled workers, these differences have the potential to exert a profound impact on policy and therefore the political, social and economic climate in which businesses operate after the election.
For many businesses, it is time to pay close attention to the election campaign and be ready to harmonise their strategy with government policy.