LCCI charges govt on business environment
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has called on the Federal Government to enthrone a new regime of business- friendly environment in the country, to promote economic activities on a sustainable basis.
Specifically, the chamber advised the government to liberalise the downstream oil sector; exploit diversified energy sources; adopt a flexible exchange rate regime and evolve a business-friendly monetary policy.
Besides, the chamber, in its review of the first quarter economic activities, called on the administration to fast-track efforts on its economic diversification agenda; reform the budget process for timely passage; and liase effectively with the legislators to ensure that various pending bills are expeditiously attended to.
LCCI president, Dr. Nike Akande, noted that the business environment has been experiencing some challenges which have impacted negatively on business performance.
Some of the challenges, according to her, include scarcity of Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS); dwindling power situation; and poor access to foreign exchange for businesses.
According to her, “the prolonged scarcity of petrol [PMS] in the past few weeks has taken a major toll on business. Apart from the considerable loss of man-hours as a result of long fuel queues and associated traffic issues on the highways, the fuel scarcity challenge also promotes proliferation of black market.
“Therefore, there is urgent need for the government to liberalise the downstream petroleum sector for unfettered private sector participation and investment. This would improve efficiency, attract more investment, generate more jobs and reduce the pressure on the country’s foreign reserves.”
Akande lamented that the worsening power supply situation across the country has continued to pose challenges to business operators, despite the tariff increase.
“There are complaints across all sectors about high energy costs especially high expenditure on diesel and petrol for large and small businesses respectively. Most businesses spend as much as 15 to 25 per cent of their total operating cost on alternative power sources.
“There is need to review the current framework/model with a view to finding a sustainable solution to the current challenges in the sector. There is an urgent need to explore alternative models of power provision, which focuses on diversification of energy sources and decentralisation of power supply channels. The high dependence on gas pipelines from the Niger Delta is characterised by high vulnerability risks which the economy and the citizens can no longer bear.”
Calling for the diversification of the nation’s economic base currently dominated by crude oil, Akande said the government should galvanise efforts to ensure that activities in other business sectors are effectively promoted to achieve the much desired diversification of the economy.
“These are very challenging times for the Nigerian economy, especially with the slump in crude oil price by over 60 per cent in the last one year. This portends considerable challenges, not only for the government, but also for the private sector.
“As business owners, we are committed to supporting the various programmes of the government to promote the diversification of the economy.”
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