By MARK ITSIBOR, Abuja
The federal government’s drive to attract more private sector participation in the Nigerian economy will be a mirage until a friendly business environment is created, stakeholders including the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and other industry experts have said.
Acting President Yomi Osinbajo recently signed three executive orders on ease of doing business with a focus to bolster Nigeria’s business environment, address infrastructure and jobs shortage.
According to reports, Nigeria requires about $30 billion or N9.47 trillion annual investments to bridge infrastructure deficit in the economy, a target, many say is impossible for the government alone to achieve.
The private operators say government need to make the business environment conducive for private in her revenue drive to fund infrastructure. Professor Osinbajo recently called for Public Private Partnership (PPP) to bridge infrastructural gap in the country.
In particular, the experts told LEADERSHIP that government needs to create the confidence among investors, respect contractual agreements with private firms and provide special incentives and reliefs to encourage private investments in infrastructure and other aspects of the economy.
In a chat with LEADERSHIP, director general of LCCI, Muda Yusuff said, “If we have the right policies, legislations; if the investors be confident that if they come into this environment, there will not be policy summersaults, there will not be challenges with their profits/dividends, there will be respect for contractual agreements and that the macroeconomic environment will be stable, the economy can attract private investors,” adding, “It is confidence that drives investment.”
On his part, associate Professor, university of Michigan, United States, Omolade Adunbi said the nation’s infrastructure bank should live up to its objective of making loans accessible to small businesses and construction companies at an affordable rate. “Such infrastructure bank,” he said “can finance projects such as mass housing, roads, and other important projects.
“Our research universities can be engaged in terms of researching the appropriate technology that can be used to manufacture many of the products that can be valuable to building the necessary infrastructure for the country.”
He advised that PPPs on infrastructure financing should be done through a policy that makes to offer loans to local businesses at low rate. The government can serve as sureties to some of the businesses interested in this,” he added.
“For domestic investors to participate in this kind of thing, we need to have a better interest rate regime. You can’t do an infrastructure project with 30 per cent interest rate – that is suicidal,” Mr. Yusuff said while calling for a review of some of the legislations that are currently inhibiting private sector participation in infrastructure financing.
The Nigerian Senate has re-emphasized its commitment at revisiting some of the laws or regulatory bottlenecks to the ease of doing business in the country with a resolve to open the infrastructure space for private sector participation.
Despite the various industrial policies of the government, an investment analyst, Peter Adebayo and others point to lack of respect for contractual agreements, insecurity, corruption, economic instability and incoherence of fiscal and monetary policies as some of the discouraging factors to investors’ interest in the Nigerian economy.