Wednesday, September 23, 2020 / 2:51 PM/ Nifemi Taiyese for Proshare WebTV / Header Image Credit: WebTVNG
Clarity, Transparency and Consistency in economic policy reforms will attract more investments into Nigeria. The Country Director of the World Bank Office in Nigeria, Mr. Shubham Chaudhuri made this assertion as a speaker at the Nigeria-British Chamber of Commerce Advocacy roundtable which explored the theme "Economic Recovery Beyond COVID-19".
He acknowledged the fact that Nigeria like other countries have been hard hit by the impact of the COVID 19 crisis, which is manifest in the spate of contractions and recessions already recorded by Q2,2020.
The World Bank official harped on a robust regulatory environment that can attract capital investments into the country.
"This is the opportunity for Nigeria to get back on track to fully realize the development potential which experienced a setback in the last four decades. The government has already taken bold steps, such as the Economic Sustainability Plan and other programs and initiatives". Chaudhuri said.
He emphasized the need for a robust economic agenda in Nigeria that is based on structural reforms, providing a level playing ground for businesses (small and large) to support economic growth, job creation, increased investment inflows, infrastructure investments with the required political will that will make the nation progress.
According to him "Nigeria's economy has the potential to become one of the largest in the world".
Mr. Kayode Falowo, the 15th President and Chairman of Council, Nigeria British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) delivering the welcome remarks said in light of the effect of the pandemic on the Nigerian economy, and in response to the Federal Governments palliative measures to help cushion the effects of the pandemic, the NBCC considered it expedient to host the Business Advocacy Roundtable.
The purpose of the roundtable according to him was to create an enabler for business executives, leaders in the public sector and policymakers to discuss and proffer solutions to issues affecting the Nigerian Business Environment.
"The COVID 19 pandemic has been quite topical, and has indeed set off a global economic crisis of unprecedented magnitude which has necessitated the implementation of stringent policies across the world," Mr. Falowo said.
He added "The far-reaching effects of COVID 19 coupled with the attendant unemployment and destruction to both large and small businesses is a matter of great concern. It is almost certain that the Nigerian Economy will contract in 2020 possibly triggering a recession and the worst in four decades".
The NBCC President said the webinar will discuss strategies for economic recovery, that will be beneficial to the various sectors of the Nigerian Business environment, which is key because the future of Nigeria depends on the decisions that the government and businesses take.
"As the Federal and State governments focus on tackling the aftermath of the pandemic and challenges of the current reality, the discussions should bring to the fore the initiatives and schemes available to vulnerable businesses that may enable them to meet their obligations and safeguard jobs from the shock of COVID 19 pandemic, and in so doing help to boost the Nigerian economy," he said.
Honourable Minister of State for Industries, Trade and Investment, Her Excellency Ambassador Mariam Katagum, in her remarks stated that the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic has been overwhelming as evident in the deterioration of economic activities across the world. For Nigeria it came on the back of the collapse in international oil prices which along with the lockdown further hampered the economic situation of the country, which led to a significant disruption of supply chain, production and trade activities as factories and plants were closed while commercial activities and movement of goods and services within the country was severely constrained; culminating in job losses and downsizing by various businesses particularly in the MSME space.
She said to cushion the effect of the pandemic on the citizens and MSMEs in the country, the government announced some responses to minimize the resulting cases of business failures, job losses and increased poverty.
According to her, the Nigerian economy was yet to recover from the 2016 recession that had a huge impact on the citizens.
"The MSME sustainability schemes were done because Nigeria cannot afford to neglect the huge MSME segment which accounts for 50% of our GDP, and constitutes about 96% of registered businesses employing about 70% of the total labour force," Katagum said.
Speaking on the role of multi-lateral organizations in promoting global economic stability, Chaudhuri said what multi-lateral institutions have tried to do is make sure that there is a global effort to help in terms of containing the outbreak and responding to it. On the economic front, at the global level, there is help in rethinking the assistance economies might need such as ensuring channels of trade and exports remain open.
Representing the Executive Chairman of the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS), Hamzat Ayodele Subair, Mr. Tokunbo Akande, the Special Advisor to the EC, LIRS said the focus has been on digitalizing the platforms which came in handy during the stateâ€™s recent COVID-19-induced lockdown.
The Special Advisor highlighted the fact that the LIRS upgraded its platform and contact center facilities, following the COVID disruptions on operations, which allowed them to continue to provide services to taxpayers throughout the lockdown, as long as they had access to the telephone.
Akande said close to 80% of the business community has access to telephones, so they could provide some modest services to them.
Akande also mentioned that the LIRS was able to formulate some policies as a sub-national entity, that serve as palliatives to taxpayers in the state.
"Essentially, the key thing for us to power Nigeria out of this likely depression is increased domestic consumption at the household level," Akande said.
He stressed the fact that Lagos has carried out measures to ameliorate the effect of the COVID- 19 pandemic on the citizens especially taxpayers in the state.
As a revenue agency, the representative of the Executive Chairman said what LIRS can do at their end is to ease the cash flow pattern for the taxpayers, which has been done through the palliatives that he classified into Administrative and Financial Relief which has been laudable for some companies.
The event featured a panel session moderated by Mr. David Brown the Managing Partner at the DBrown Consulting International, a consultant with the World Bank.
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