* Says power challenges, infrastructure will be tackled
Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to the ease of doing business initiative and announced fresh plans at facilitating quick clearance of goods at the ports.
The government also promised to implement reforms at National Agency for Foods Drugs and Administration Control ( NAFDAC) and the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to make their operations faster in facilitating doing businesses in the country.
Osinbajo gave these commitments at the 23rd Nigerian Economic Summit (NES) in Abuja on Tuesday.
He assured that government would critically address other factors affecting economic growth like epileptic power supply, dilapidated roads and insufficient foreign exchange for importers.
The Vice President said reemphasised that the Buhari administration remain committed to partnering with the private sector to address the country’s infrastructure shortfall.
“Our budget for this year is about N7 trillion. That is not enough to address all the infrastructure challenges we have and that is why we will always partner with the private sector to address them. That notwithstanding, we are doing a whole lot across various sectors. Interestingly, we have exited recession. We are not there yet but it is a sign that we are making progress. Our foreign exchange reserves have hit $32 billion. We now have a dedicated window for investors and exporters to access foreign exchange called NIFEX.
“Our oil production has increased because as at the time we came in, we were losing one million barrels daily. Now production is nearly 2 million barrels per day. Our debt overhang is being addressed as we pay our Joint Venture cash call arrears. There is new confidence in the country. Investors are coming in. We have created the eligible customer arrangement for power where buyer and seller meet and strike a deal. There are plans to break the power distribution network”, the Vice President stated.
Addressing the issue of high interest rate raised by a member of the audience, he said government has taken initiative to seek her loans via long tenure and cheaper loan in order not to crowd out private sector access to credit.
Osinbajo further assured of government’s commitment to diversifying the economy, adding that much mileage has been recorded in agriculture.
He said that heavy investment in the agricultural sector, which began at the inception of the Buhari’s administration, will be sustained.
Earlier in his address, the Minister of Budget and National Planning SEN. Udoma Udo Udoma said that the present administration is committed to the faithful implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) saying “It is for this reason that this year’s summit is dedicated to the implementation of the ERGP.
“We cannot, and must not, allow it to fail. At this summit, we will be expecting the active participation of all the private sector persons gathered here in reviewing and strengthening our implementation strategies.
Indeed, we are gathered here so as to give an opportunity for this gathering of captains of industry and influential members of the private sector to contribute towards the effective implementation of the ERGP. The focus of this year’s summit is therefore implementation and that is why the theme: “Opportunities, Productivity, and Employment: Actualizing the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan”, has been so selected. We must get things right this time.
“On our part, we are ensuring that our annual budgets are aligned with the ERGP so that Government spending is driven by the Plan. In addition, we have set up a special implementation unit to ensure effective delivery of the Plan and have also engaged staff to drive the process. In the coming weeks, we will be running sector-focused Malaysian style labs.”
Other members of the panel are Chief Tony Elumelu and Vice- Chairman , General Electric Company, John G. Rice.
The 23rd NES is an annual gathering of public and private sector stakeholders aimed at proffering solutions to various challenges facing the economy.
In his contribution, Chairman of Heirs Holding, Tony Elumelu urged government to up its commitment in SMEs . He said Nigerian youths are uniquely creative, willing and ready to work if opportunities were created. He advised government to tackle the protracted power failure, saying it remains number one stumbling block.
“Localization is synonymous with growth of SMEs . It takes care of our youths. We’ve creative youth prepared to work once opportunities present themselves. Osinbajo reiterates FG’s commitment to ease of doing business