By Patience Danjuma
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday disclosed that the Federal Government has so far injected $9 billion into road, railway and power infrastructure in the last two years.
He made this known while speaking at the opening ceremony of the 61st meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organization Commission for Africa (UNWTO-CAF) theme: “Tourism Statistics – A Catalyst for Development” in Abuja noted that the country is investing so much in infrastructure to promote tourism in a steady effort to diversify the economy.
Represented at the occasion by the Secretary to the Government of the Federal, Boss Mustapha, Buhari disclosed that to attract investment in the tourism sector, the government will be imposing minimal tariffs on amusement park equipment, casino, materials for hotel construction etc.
He said, “The theme: “Tourism Statistics – A Catalyst for Development” is apt and could not have come at a better time than now, considering the significance of Tourism Statistics and Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) in measuring the contribution of the tourism sector to the national economy.
“The importance of tourism and its potentials to national economies cannot be overemphasized. Tourism, as we all know, contributes to the wealth of nations and the well-being of citizens, largely through foreign exchange earnings, generation of revenue, creation of employment, knowledge, cultural integration as well as increase the GDP of the country.
“We are making steady efforts to diversify the economy through agriculture, solid minerals development and tourism. We are also investing heavily in infrastructure to promote tourism. This administration has injected about US$9 billion to strengthen its investment in power, roads and railway in the past two years alone.”
Buhari added that his administration had invested in a Social Investment Programme (SIP) to promote human capital development which in turn, has benefitted over 9 million people.
These programmes are said to include the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, providing one meal a day to 7.4 million pupils in 22 states of the Federation; N-Power programme which has employed 200,000 university graduates and is about to employ 300,000 more; the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) under which some 297,973 poor homes are receiving 5,000 Naira monthly; and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) that has provided loans to hundreds of thousands of small business owners.
He reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to providing public safety and security to all Nigerians, investors and tourists.
He said, “Government is also investing a lot of resources into building the inventory of equipment and capacity of security agencies to keep the country safe.
“Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it may interest you to note that Nigeria is a country with a population of over 180 million people and over 250 ethnic groups, each with a unique story.
“These stories are finding expression in our movies, music and many other creative ideas. Our music and movies, in particular, have taken the world by storm and, for the creative young talents in our dear country, Nigeria; the best is yet to come,” Buhari said.
The president assured investors o attractive incentives in the tourism sector some of which are pioneer status to all major tourism projects; minimum tariff on imported tourism equipment, amusement park equipment and materials for hotel construction and furnishing; dedicated transportation for tour operators and equipment for restaurants not manufactured in Nigeria.
Others include minimum duty on casino equipment; work permit for foreign workers with specialized skills within the industry; and land at concessionary rate by state governments to tourism investors.
He said, “Government is also deepening the legislative and institutional capacities for the protection of intellectual property rights in Nigeria. This will give all investors the assurance of security of their rights especially in the creative industry.
“Let me use this opportunity to earnestly commend the leadership of the UNWTO, the Commission for Africa (CAF) and, most importantly, the Tourism Ministers from all over Africa for considering Nigeria worthy of hosting this great event this year. Nigeria will continue to count on your support to host more international events as we will also support you whenever the opportunity knocks at your door.
“Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is now my pleasure to declare open the 61st meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Africa,” Buhari said.
Also present at the occasion, Minister of Information and Cultural, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said that the conference has helped the government test its policy on Visa on arrival for investors.
He also informed participants that President Buhari has handled the security situation in the country which makes it possible for the conference to hold without fear since four years ago; nothing of the nature would have been able to take place in Abuja due to the fear of Boko Haram.
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