The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines And Agriculture (NACCIMA), yesterday harped on the delay in passing the 2017 budget by the National Assembly.
NACCIMA, though acknowledged the thoroughness that the legislators are putting into the 2017 Budget process to ensure that it positively impacts on Nigeria’s economy, it however said, “the process is taking too long, considering the fact that a budget is a life line of the economic development of any nation, which the private sector also depends upon for its initiatives.”
In a chat with journalists on the state of the economy and the association’s perspective on some trending socio-economic issues, the President of NACCIMA, Chief Bassey Edem, said “ there is need for the Executive and Legislative arms of Government to expedite action on the Budget and ensure that the 2017 Appropriation Bill is passed into law as soon as possible.
“In doing so, we would successfully reduce the negative impacts which include the stalling of key infrastructure projects and prevention of Foreign Direct Investments waiting for the direction of the Nigerian economy to conclude their investment plans and actions” he said.
On the issue of the economic recovery plan, Edem said the chamber acknowledged the effort of the Federal Government in ensuring that the country is on its way out of the economic recession it drifted into in 2016 adding that the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) launched by the Federal Government, which is expected to grow the economy by 2.19 per cent in 2017 and 7 per cent in 2020 is a step in the right direction.
“However, the bane of such a plan is usually the implementation.
That is why we wish to start this overview of the trending economic situation in the country by counselling that the Federal Government should ensure that the timeline for each milestone on the ERGP is strictly adhered to, so that the plan as conceived will promote the needed diversification and resource-based industrialisation plan of government.
Having been part of the process of developing the ERGP, it becomes imperative that the private sector be carried along in its implementation.
Hence, we suggest and also counsel that government should work with the Organised Private Sector in the different areas of implementation to enable the country have an all-inclusive depth in its recovery plan and a clear path for implementation” he said.
On foreign exchange policies, the chamber commended the Central Bank of Nigeria for the recent effort in easing the pressure on the Naira through the review of the policies guiding Foreign Exchange Management in the country, adding that the establishment of separate windows for investors and exporters in the Foreign Exchange Market has played a very key role in ensuring normalcy on the foreign exchange market and has enabled some companies to start planning for the commencement of their operations.
“Also commendable is the Special Window created for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
However, for a better impact on the Economic Development of the country, it is imortant for the CBN to consider urther liberalisation of the Foreign Exchange market while also giving a thought to the cessation of the Multiple Windows in the foreign exchange market, review of the CBN policy on the 41 items banned from the official foreign exchange market, through the removal of the essential raw materials that are not available locally from banned items and restoration of sectoral forex allocation to the real sector and extension of same to the Agricultural and solid minerals sector, as provided in the ERGP.
On the issue of export in the country, Edem said a well developed and structured Export Sector will boost inflow of Foreign Exchange into the country.
It is important to note that the Economic Diversification Programme is incomplete without adequate export. We commend Government for lifting the suspension on the Export Expansion Grant (EEG).
But we are concerned that the budgetary provision of $20bn seems to be grossly inadequate considering the huge outstanding pile of unpaid and unutilised Negotiable Duty Credit Certificates (NDCC).