THE Organised Private Sector (OPS) yesterday hailed President Muhammadu Buhari’s move to seek emergency powers to push his government’s planned stimulus for the economy.
According to the plan, the government is expected to send an Executive Bill to the National Assembly for Executive orders to tackle the economic crisis.
Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) President Dr. Frank Udemba Jacobs said if the request is granted and the measures are implemented, the economy will be repositioned and Nigerians will be better for it.
He said the economy would improve sufficiently, if mobilisation fee to contractors is raised from 15 to 50 per cent as being planned.
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) Director-General, Mr. Muda Yusuf, said the sense of urgency demonstrated by Buhari on the need to fix the economy is a welcome development.
He argued that though the details of the Economic Stabilisation Bill are yet to be released, a few indications of the government’s thinking can be deducted.
Yusuf observed that some of the issues can be dealt with within the authorities of the executive while others may need legislative actions.
Lending his voice to fast-track the procurement process to quickly activate the stimulus spending by government, he advised that it should be done without compromising the integrity of the procurement process.
According to him, like many other processes in government, the procurement process is very bureaucratic and not consistent with the current mood of the nation and so should be discarded.
On the proposal on the sale of public assets, Yusuf said it would require further discussions and scrutiny when the details are released.
On the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), he said the proposal to review the UBEC Laws will surely help to unlock the liquidity, which the associated spending will provide.
He said: “The relaxation of the counterpart funding requirements for states is a step in the right direction. The decision to fast-track the visa issuance process is also a welcome development, as this will help to boost tourism and encourage investors seeking to explore opportunities in the Nigerian economy.
“I would in fact, go further to suggest that holders of passports of the advanced economies of the world should be given liberal entry into the country. I believe this will further help to boost the inflow of investments and support the hospitality industry.”
He however, cautioned on the need to approach the proposal on virement of budgetary allocation with tact.
“Virement proposal should be made so that it could be considered on a case-by-case basis. I do not expect that powers for budgetary allocation virement will be open-ended,” he added.
He advised on the need to streamline the duplication of agencies at the airports and bottlenecks in entry formalities into the country.
He asked that the move should be extended to the seaports to reduce transaction costs at the ports and also streamline the number of agencies involved in cargo examination and release.
On the need for alternative sources of power, the LCCI boss said using gas to feed the power stations is a step in the right direction, though more expensive but desirable in the current circumstance.
He said the trade policy is a major factor in the current inflationary condition.
“It is important to review the totality of the current trade policy regime. Already, the citizens and businesses are contending with the consequences of the inevitable exchange rate depreciation.
This has, however, been compounded in many instances by high import duties, high port charges, Value Added Tax (VAT), among other. The impact of these on cost structures in the economy is phenomenal.”
He expressed regret that the economy is also contending with various import restriction measures which, he added, is fuelling inflation and worsening the poverty situation.
“A balance between the quests for self-reliance and the welfare of the citizens is imperative in the policy formulation process,” he added.