By Yinka Kolawole
As Nigeria celebrates 61 years of independence, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has recommended the way forward to building a sustainable economy for the country.
In a “61st Independence Anniversary” statement made available to Vanguard at the weekend, Dr Chinyere Almona, Director-General, LCCI, noted that the growing decline in the non-oil sector productivity over the past 61 years has been the major failing of the Nigerian economy.
As a forward, Almona called for effective implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), noting that it is critical to reforming the oil and gas and positioning it to attract more quality Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in the sector.
Such reforms would also boost investment in the sector, increase revenue and create many more quality jobs in the economy.
She also said there is a need to streamline the foreign exchange (forex) management to reduce the cost of stabilizing the exchange rate, boost the supply of the forex into the economy, prioritize the unification of the multiple exchange rates, and broaden the scope for a market-driven exchange rate.
“All of these are essential to reduce the systemic distortions and disruptions resulting from the current model of foreign exchange management. It is important as well to de-emphasize demand management and scale-up strategies to support the supply side of the forex market,” she added.
Almona further stated: “We need to urgently deal with the escalating cost of governance, fiscal leakages, and revenue optimization issues.
“We should prioritize the attraction of FDIs by addressing the key investment environment issues to inspire investors’ confidence. FDIs have a much bigger potential impact on job creation, poverty reduction, and economic inclusion.
Furthermore, she said: “Infrastructure financing is a big issue that needs very deep reflection as we mark the 61st independent anniversary.
Without a sound infrastructure base, it will be difficult to achieve the various socio-economic objectives of government at all levels. Infrastructure investment is a key driver of economic growth and development.
“Budgetary allocations have proved to be grossly inadequate for effective funding of infrastructure in Nigeria. Neither can we continually depend on debt financing as the debt profile is already at an unsustainable threshold?
It is thus imperative to seek innovative ways of effectively funding infrastructure in Nigeria. We need to develop new strategies to attract private sector capital to the infrastructure space.
This should cover the broad spectrum of infrastructure provision – roads, railways, airports, waterways, electricity, and transition to renewable energy.”