The Federal Government says it will continue to invest about N1.3 trillion annually on capital projects to bridge the infrastructure gap in order to attract investors to the country.
Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, said this in Abuja when a consortium of 20 international investors led by a former Minister of Finance, Shamsudeen Usman, visited her.
According to Adeosun: “government invested about N1.3 trillion on capital projects last year (2016) to develop roads, rail, power, housing and all the infrastructure government thinks would be needed to unlock this huge economy,” the Minister said. “Hopefully, the figure would be around the same for 2017 and 2018.”
She further said that government’s commitment to solving the infrastructure challenges in the country was strong, giving that one of the cardinal focus of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is to address the infrastructure deficit in the country through targeted spendings at projects that would unlock the economic potential of the country.
The visiting consortium was made up of representatives of investment, capital and equities firms from London, New York, Miami, Johannesburg and others some of which buy Nigerian bonds and equities as well as those providing advisory services to clients on the foreign direct investments (FDIs).
The Minister described the level of interest from foreign investors in the Nigerian economy as huge, adding that very soon, these interests would translate into massive investments that would create jobs and reduce the level poverty in the country.
She said a lot of the projects currently being handled by government were abandoned for over 10 years, pointing out that Nigerians were beginning to feel the impact of government efforts in terms of infrastructural development.
She noted that this is “a great time for investors to be in Nigeria. For us these are better times now than last year because finally we think that we are beginning to address through deliberate policies some of the most stubborn problems that have held back Nigeria’s growth.
Apart from undertaking difficult adjustments in fiscal policies, she said the Finance Ministry was focusing on revenue, particularly how to move the country’s tax to GDP ratio from six percent to an initial target of 10 per cent and in the medium to long term to about 15 to 20 per cent.
With the seriousness demonstrated by government to develop infrastructure in order to unlock the potentials of the economy, the Minister said several companies have been coming to inquire about the prospects of opening factories and land for agriculture.
Although she did not give specific details, the Minister said the visitors included major cassava processing firms from Brazil and Thailand who have asked for between 10, 000 and, 20,000 hectares of land for cultivation and processing of cassava.
The leader of the delegation and Managing Director, Global Chief Economist, Renaissance Capital, Charles Robertson, told Adeosun that the collective worth of investments by the various firms in the consortium was about $1 billion.
Robertson said the objective of their visit was to have first-hand interaction with policy makers regarding their “positive sentiments about the country’s economy and what the outlook and investment climate is going forward.”
He said there is a lot of optimism in the global market about Nigeria and investors have for long been waiting for positive changes in the country’s economy, it appears that the right moment has come, with investment flows rising and reserves looking up.