Monday, February 25, 2019 05.30PM /
Bukola Akinyele for Proshare WebTV
At the recent 3rd edition of the Vanguard Economic Summit Mr. Muda Yusuf Director General of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry gave his perspective on issues of human improvement and the nations development index.
According to him, “I have a bit of a problem in terms of recognizing whether it is important that we push for a strong economy so that we can deliver excellent social investment or whether we should strongly push for social investment and let the economy take care of itself.”
Mr Yusuf said it was a bit of a dilemma because in looking at leading global economies today there is a correlation between the size of their economy and the welfare of their citizens, the correlation may not be perfect but clearly there’s a correlation.
He noted that the human development index or the quality of human life, requires a great deal of investment and resources to make progress.
“When we look at the story of Nigeria today, practically all our social sector organizations or segments are collapsing, public schools have practically collapsed, the public health institutions have collapsed and there are more private schools in many of the states than public schools and we are faced with a situation today where we have more private hospitals than public hospitals” Yusuf said.
Speaking further, the DG, LCCI said the issue of resources must be addressed , at a time the government does not have enough money to invest in social services.
He was of the view that two ways to the issue of human capital development, is first exploring ways to incentivize the private sector to complement the role of government.
Yusuf said, If we have a situation where the educational sector is now being private sector driven, the risk of exclusion will heighten in the country considering the fact that the private sector is profit driven.
From a policy perspective Muda believes that all investors in the education sector, should enjoy child tax free investment, which will apply to the private primary schools, secondary schools or universities.
“We should grant them complete tax holidays and all the inputs in the educational sector either educational materials or laboratory materials should come in free of import duties, so that the private sector will be able to complement the efforts of government in delivering quality human capital, Muda believes.
Secondly, in the area of Healthcare he said most of the public hospitals today are in a sorry state and it has happened because of the lack of resources.
In his view, the private sector is filling major gaps in this space, therefore all medical equipment used by those in the pharmaceutical or healthcare business such as hospitals should enjoy complete tax free investment, so that they can complement the effort of government in the delivery of health care.
He said private hospitals should not be taxed like oil companies because they are playing a special role and complementing the efforts of governments.
According to him “We are talking of a situation where there is human development and where the poor have access to Healthcare. For instance, the syringes they use in the hospital was moved from 10% to an import duty of 70%. This is a critical policy issue”.
The LCCI DG asserted that the government has to deal with the issues of tax and import duty in supporting the private sector’s contribution to social investment.
“In order to grow the capacity of the economy, we need funds to be able to sustain all the activities, we need to grow investment because it is from investment we can get revenues, it is from the revenue you can develop education, health services, security forces and so on” Yusuf said .
Yusuf made a strong case for the government to tailor its policy to support microenterprises, indigenous investors, and foreign direct investment.
He warned that if Nigeria does not grow its investment space, it cannot grow thitse revenue base which will impede growth in national employment figures.