Economic growth: Stakeholders task FG on infrastructure

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By Lydia Ngwakwe
Lagos, Jan. 18, 2022 Stakeholders in business on Tuesday urged the Federal Government to fix infrastructure to enable Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) thrive and grow the economy faster.
They gave the advice at the 8th National Economic Outlook on the Implications for Businesses in 2022, organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria’s Centre for Financial Studies, in collaboration with B. Adedipe Associates Ltd., in Lagos.
The stakeholders said for the Nigerian economy to make progress, power infrastructure, transportation, among others must work well for the retail businesses to thrive.
The Managing Director of Firstbank Nigeria Ltd., Dr Adesola Adeduntan, urged government to provide a conducive environment for SMEs to be able to favourably compete with their global counterparts.
“As a nation if we are to make progress these things need to work well; the big problem for SMEs are infrastructure, power and transportation.
“There is no way our SMEs can actually compete with Chinese or Indian producers if all they are doing is to produce with diesel. It’s actually impossible,” he said.
Adeduntan, represented by Mr Olusegun Alebiosu, Executive Director, Firstbank, also said the bank had set aside 35 per cent of its loan this year for SMEs to help grow the country’s economy.
He said it was targeting close to about 1 billion dollar lending even though it was an election year, adding that from experience, people spent more during election years.
Mr Taiwo Joda, Managing Director, Accion Microfinance Bank, said retail and Small businesses were catalysts for economic growth.
“We need to drive growth and the survival of the MSMEs; we need to help them remain profitable and sustainable in the long run.
“If you roll back to 2020 because of these people, because this segment of people are very vulnerable to economic disruptions and instability, a lot happened during the COVID era.
“We lost not less than 20,000 retail businesses who closed shop and a lot of them also were unable to come back to business even up till now,” he said.
Dr Jumoke Oduwole, Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business, said the Federal Government had set up the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) to remove bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria.
“For a favourable business climate, we know that MSMEs are a bit of a vulnerable target when it comes to getting funding from banks or financial institutions, and we have tried to do some things to support them over the last five years of the PEBEC.
“So, for those of you who are not aware, the PEBEC was inaugurated in 2016 and its mandate actually focuses on systemic intervention for MSMEs in particular.
“It’s chaired by the Vice President and it has the government, the head of civil service, and the CBN Governor and private sector representation and also has representation from the National Assembly and the Judiciary,” she said.
Earlier, Dr Bayo Olugbemi, president, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), said the event was vital as it enabled stakeholders and businesses gain adequate information to give them insights into what the New Year held.
“This event is very vital as it enables us gain insight into the impact of the year on several economic indices as well as to help us undertake a comprehensive assessment of the opportunities, challenges and indeed the threats that businesses may encounter during the current year.
“Every organisation needs to be fortified with adequate information to give insights into what the year 2022 holds.
“This will undoubtedly serve as a guide in making informed decisions critical to the growth of businesses and in reviewing strategic plans as the need may arise,” he said.
The Economic Outlook event, initiated in 2014 is designed to bring together captains of the industry, experts and relevant stakeholders to discuss emerging issues facing both the national and global economies as well as their implications for businesses.