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Our focus is to keep Nigeria’s economy sustainably growing – Enelamah, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment

Our focus is to keep Nigeria’s economy sustainably growing – Enelamah, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment

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Countries develop faster and more sustainably in a caring, supportive environment which responds to the needs of businesses and other players of the economy

Bimbola Oyesola

As preparation for the 2019 election heats up, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, who was Guest Speaker at this year’s annual seminar of the Commerce and Industry Correspondents Association of Nigeria (CICAN) explained steps the Federal Government have been taking lately to consolidate its gains and plans for the future.

READ ALSO: Enelamah warns board members against interference in agencies’ activities

According to him, the main focus of the administration now is to entrench good governance, which he argued will make the economy get better. He speaks more on other issues relating to the economy.

Excerpts:

Development

I will like to start by pointing out that the development of a country is not much different from the development of an individual.

A person’s development is dependent on his/her inherited traits or God-given gifts and the right environment to nurture those gifts. Similarly, countries develop faster and more sustainably in a caring, supportive environment which responds to the needs of businesses and other players of the economy.

Rightly so, the bedrock of good governance is the creation of an enabling environment for meaningful life and businesses to thrive.

Enabling business Environment

When I became minister I said that my vision for the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment is for it to be seen as a Ministry of Enabling Environment. We aspired to make Nigeria one of the most attractive places to do business in Africa and even the world, by improving the business environment.

President Muhammadu Buhari showed his commitment to a more conducive and attractive business environment in Nigeria by establishing the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. The Council is in turn fostering better coordination and collaboration between Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs); and more effective collaboration between – the Executive, State governments, National Assembly and the private sector.

So far, PEBEC has implemented three different 60-day National Action Plans focused on business registration, simplification of procedures for taxes, trading across borders, getting credit for SMEs, ease in registering property, among others.

Also, the first Executive order by the current administration was on Ease of Doing Business and Transparency. That order, which continues to be implemented, has contributed in removing several of the bottlenecks that made doing business difficult in Nigeria.

Public-Private Sector Collaboration

The development model that claims that government can do it all has become outdated because of the failure of such efforts and evident superiority and advantages of partnerships.

As the Scriptures say, two are better than one and a threefold cord is not easily broken.

Partnership with the private sector is imperative for sustainable economic growth. It is nearly impossible for the government alone to meet the needs of the citizens. So development is now private-sector driven, while the government provides the enabling environment to make that happen.

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At various levels and in all sectors we have been encouraging private sector participation, including active partnerships. For example as at 2017, the Federal Government, through the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, had attracted N3.7 trillion from its 51 projects through Public-Private Partnerships.

Industrialisation

We are leveraging our comparative advantage and factor endowments in our commitment to making Nigeria competitive for local production and thereby increasing the contribution of manufacturing to GDP.

I will like to share some of the achievements to date:

We have stepped up and are aggressively implementing the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) by:- the establishment of the Nigeria Industrial Policy & Competitiveness Advisory Council (Industrial Council) – comprising the government and private sector representatives at the highest level; – implementing sectoral policies for areas in which we have comparative advantage – primarily in Agriculture and Petrochemicals. Examples include the National Sugar Master Plan; and the new Tomato Policy approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC). Initial results include increased local production of sugar, particularly in Niger and Adamawa States by Golden Sugar and Savannah Sugar.  Although some of these areas have been affected by flood, Government is working hard to bring relief to the people and communities.

We have commenced the establishment and upgrading of some existing industrial parks to world-class parks; and we are working towards the establishment of special economic zones (SEZs) across the geo-political zones in the country.

Micro, Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises

Notably, Micro, Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises contribute almost half of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employ over 80 percent of the country’s labour force. It is fair to say that Nigeria cannot flourish if its MSMEs are floundering. We are therefore making sustained efforts to build capacity, increase access to finance and eliminate bottlenecks to conducting business.

Our enabling environment and ease of doing business efforts are targeting MSMEs specifically.

Some of the achievements in support of MSMES include:

The inauguration of the National Council on Micro Small & Medium Enterprises (NCMES) to increase our focus on MSMES and boost their development.

Increased access to finance for MSMES by providing capital for both start-ups and expansion. It is important to point out that through PEBEC’s push and the collaboration with the National Assembly, two important laws to ease access to credit were passed last year.

The World Bank funded – Growth and Employment (GEM) Project is focused on supporting businesses in Information, Communication and Technology (ICT), Agro-processing, Entertainment, Tourism and Construction. Achievements of the project include the following:

• More than 89,000 Small and Medium enterprises registered on the BIG portal;

• Over 900 Nigerian MSMEs have benefited from grants to implement their business plans;

• At least 40 local consulting firms trained to deliver technical services to MSMEs;

• Over 750 Nigerian MSMEs have benefited from the services of the project’s trained Business Development Services Providers (BDSPs);

• Over 21,000 Nigerian MSMEs have received technical assistance including training offered by EDC/Lagos Business School;

• The Project has supported the Entertainment Industry by funding two (2) online music distribution companies with a view to reducing piracy and improve the income of content developers in the Music Industry – within the project period at least 200 SMEs will benefit from these services; 400 graduates trained in Video and Sound editing under support to the Entertainment Industry;

• 600 Nigerians were trained in various artisan skills for the construction sector to reduce the influx of foreign skilled labor taking Nigerian jobs;

• The project has so far catalysed the creation of over 26,000 jobs in the five sectors under its focus.

• It is pertinent to note that a large amount of GEM’s intervention that are aimed at creating jobs are not yet matured, therefore more jobs are expected to be created as this investment/intervention begin to yield results.

• Arrangements are being made with the World Bank for the expansion of the project. The GEM project is indeed a pilot that could be repeated.

The Bank of Industry operates the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme (YES) programme that provides discretionary funding for National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members and entrepreneurs that are interested in starting their own businesses. To date, BOI has already approved the sum of NGN1.7BN for 1000 beneficiaries and is collaborating with 21 state governments on implementing similar arrangements. The Bank’s total lending to Micro, Small, Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in 2017 was over N112.5 billion.

Implementation of the One-Local Government, One Product (OLOP) Programme which is expected to generate over 4,900 new jobs;

Upgrading of Industrial Development Centres (IDCs), through a grant from the African Development Bank (ADB) for conversion to MSMEs cluster parks.

Implementation of the Nationwide MSMES Clinics which started in Aba in January, 2017 and has spread across the country. The success of this initiative led by His Excellency Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has been remarkable.

Attracting investment

The capital needed to transform Nigeria to a country of our dreams cannot be provided entirely from the government. We believe strongly in partnering with private sector and attracting investment.

We have therefore strengthened investment promotion capabilities of the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), with focus on proactively targeting and tracking domestic and international investors and investments.

Led by President Buhari, the government has worked with other countries and global businesses to facilitate a number of high profile investments into the country. Nigeria is the number one investment destination in Africa, with announced investment commitment of US$66.36 Billion in 2017.

Only recently, through bilateral talks with the United Kingdom, Germany, and China, we signed MoUs for investment commitment totaling several billions of dollars.

The post Our focus is to keep Nigeria’s economy sustainably growing – Enelamah, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.

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