The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday at a press briefing with business correspondents in the country, set out its business and economic policy agenda for the second term tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
President of the Chamber Mr Babatunde Ruwase, FCA flanked by his executive members outlined 17 areas, that will require urgent attention by the government.
GDP Growth and Investment
The government should commit to policies and programme that will accelerate economic growth and ensure that the growth rate surpasses the rate of growth of population. Private sector investment is a critical growth driver; therefore, the government should commit to the creation of an enabling environment to bring about a quantum leap in private investment.
Consequently, tax policy, trade policy, monetary policy, and foreign exchange policy must be in alignment with this objective.
Economic Management Philosophy
The LCCI recognises the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) as the main economic policy document of the present administration. The private sector should be positioned to play the role expected of it in this important policy document.
Funding Of Government Operations
The LCCI urges the Buhari administration to focus on attracting investments, through an appropriate Public Private Partnership to attract private capital in the financing of bankable public sector projects.
On the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA), the LCCI calls on the government to ensure that appropriate safeguards and measures are put in place to protect vulnerable sectors of the economy.
The rules of origin should be enforced and once these two issues are addressed Nigeria can sign the treaty.
The Lagos chamber proposes a more liberal visa policy regime, which should grant nationals of selected advanced economies visa free entry into Nigeria for a maximum of 30 days.
This will positively impact Nigeria’s FDI, hospitality and tourism industry.
PEBEC and Ease of Doing Business Initiatives
LCCI is of the firm belief that the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council is one of the best performing initiatives of the present administration. The chamber requests that the Enabling Business Environment Secratariat, EBES should be further strengthened to cover all sectors of the economy in its scope of activities.
Nigeria Customs Service and Ease of Doing Business
The NCS should be compelled forthwith to subscribe to the Ease of Doing Business policy of the government, without necessarily compromising its security surveillance.
It should also do more to prioritise its trade facilitation role.
We urge government to expedite actions on the ongoing Rail projects across the country to ensure cost effective logistics for investors across all sectors.
LCCI wants the issue of poor road maintenance to be addressed in a sustainable manner. The chamber calls for the passage of National Roads Fund Bill.
Government should also introduce tolling on inter-state roads that have been completed to ensure sustainable finance for maintenance of roads.
Access and Cost of Credit to MSMES
The Lagos Chamber calls on the government to work out a credit guarantee scheme for MSMEs that will promote lending and provide guarantee of loan repayments.
Presidential Quarterly Meeting with the Private Sector
LCCI submits that for a more effective and coordinated management of the economy, the Economic Team, under the leadership of the Vice President should be given more powers to deal with economic management issues across all sectors.
Abandoned Federal Government Properties in Lagos
On Old Federal building in Lagos like the following;Federal Secretariat, National Assembly complex, Tafawa Balew Square, Independence Building, CBN Properties and Federal Ministry of Commerce at Tinubu Square, the LCCI urges the FG to either return the property to Lagos State or give them out on lease to the private sector.
NIPC Office in Lagos
The interface of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council, NIPC is frequent and critical to achieving the objective of promoting investments and creating jobs.
LCCI is worried that the NIPC does not have an office in Lagos, and wants the government to intervene by setting up one that will have the powers to substantially attend to all needs of investors.
Apapa Traffic Gridlock
The gridlock in the Apapa axis of Lagos State has imposed unbearable costs on businesses. LCCI calls for the urgent measures to be taken to restore the use of rail for the evacuation of cargo from the Lagos ports.
Also, pipelines should also be used to transport petroleum products from the ports to the depots around the country.
Oil and Gas Sector Reforms
In the area of oil and gas sector reforms, the LCCI made three points namely;
A more expeditious consideration be given to the bill through appropriate collaborative actions with the national assembly.
The need to prioritize local refining of petroleum products to ease pressure on our reserves
The protection of manufacturers of gas cylinders to promote industrialisation, self-reliance and conservation of foreign exchange.
The intervention of the FG to reduce the burden of excessive taxation on oil and gas investors in the country
LCCI proposes that policies and incentives should be put in place to encourage decentralization and more off grid solutions in the power sector.
The Chamber urges government to encourage and facilitate more off grid power generation for improved access to power. The Aba and Sura market power initiatives should be widely replicated across the country.
Digital Applications to Government Operations
For the digitization of government operations, LCCI wants the scope of digital applications and the use of technology be increased to increase efficiency across the Ministries, Department and Agencies.
This will reduce human interface, increase the speed of transactions, and improve efficiency.