The Federal Government said it will implement Nigeria’s Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP), inherited from the past administration, give necessary support to the Micro, Small and Medium scale Enterprises and support digitization of the Nigerian economy in a bid to achieve the level of growth that will reverse current economic recession.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelama, after assessing the current state of the economy at the FBNQuest investor conference in Lagos, Thursday, reiterated that industrialisation of the country will remain a mirage without power sector development.
He also said government will set up high level of diversification and growth working group that will establish a partnership between government and captains of the Nigerian private sector.
Enelama however, said the time has come to change discussion about the economy from that of lamentation to solutions, adding that his ministry is already developing strategies to tap into digital technologies to boost trade and investments.
He also admitted that the administration must deliver on creating and implementing frameworks for enabling environment where partnership with private investors and private capital will thrive.
While agreeing that cost of doing business in the country is high, the minister said infrastructure challenge has been the key, but expressed the hope that right policies and the will to implement globally tested policies will work for the country.
Meanwhile, as stakeholders express concern over Nigeria’s rising debt profile amid economic growth challenges, the minister said such fears though reasonable, are not called for presently.
According to him, while the debt stock might be on the increase, Nigerians should be interested in the country’s ability to pay and the need for infrastructure that has dragged competitiveness and growth behind.
“We need so much investment in infrastructure that government alone does not have all the money to provide. This is why we need Foreign Direct Investment and partnership with the private sector,” he said
He said that the primary focus should be the quality of the debt deals and ensuring that implementation of the projects for which the debts were entered into is worthwhile and able to provide the resources to pay back.
He also observed that implementation of policies has always not been easy, citing Germany and Chile as examples of revived economies with full implementation of structural reforms.
Noting that Nigerians are enterprising and must be supported to accelerate the growth of the economy, he pointed out that they thrive as individuals outside the country, but not as a group in the nation. He said this borders on developing specific policies for small businesses.
Enelama faulted several interventions in the country that never get to real people that needed them , which is currently running into billions of Naira; stressing that these must be created in a way that make it simple for Small and Medium Enterprises to access the funds without difficulties.
The minister said with the foreign exchange crisis caused by oil prices, the country’s investment need not be built around foreign investors who are not always there for the economy, even when returns are always guaranteed by right policy.