Abuja Chamber Tasks Buhari On Development Of SMEs

The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry [ACCI] has tasked the new administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle headlong the perennial epileptic supply and endemic corruption that have negatively impacted the growth of the Nigerian economy.
Vice President of ACCI in charge of the Media, Jude Igwe, in a statement on Sunday, also urged the Buhari administration to give topmost priority to the development of the Small and Medium Enterprises [SMEs], saying that they represent roughly 85 per cent of the economy and have been globally acknowledged as the engine of growth of any economy.
Igwe explained that acute shortage of power supply in Nigeria put pressure on all other aspects of the economy, including the demands on the petroleum sector.
He said: “The issue of provision of adequate power for the nation must be urgently addressed so as to bring back to life a lot of industrial and manufacturing concerns that have gone comatose as a result of unsustainable costs of running their operations on generators.
“The consequences of these are staring us in the face – low productivity, retrenchment of workers, non-employment of job seekers, lack of consumer goods locally and pressure to import finished goods to sustain local demands and general down turn in the economy.
“In the light of the privatisation that has been done already by the immediate past government which has not moved the power situation any inch up, the new administration must do an urgent review session with the stakeholders where they would be honest enough to tell the new administration the real factors that have made it impossible for them to provide power to Nigerians so that a quick fix solution shall be explored to arrest a total collapse of the entire economy”, he added.
Commenting on the pervasive corruption and ineptitude that have characterised the petroleum sector, Igwe decried a situation where the greater percentage of power consumption in Nigeria on a daily basis is generated by burning premium motor spirit (PMS) and diesel meant ordinarily for motor vehicles.
He urged the new administration to look at the issue of deregulation of the oil sector, which presented a delicate balance to the administration.
“The massive corruption implicit in the subsidy regime has made a lot of well meaning Nigerians to call for its scrapping even at a time we have no functional refineries”, he said.
According to him, the obvious effect is high prices of imported petroleum products with the resultant high cost of goods and services.
“We, therefore, urge the government to empower a prudently supervised Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation [NNPC] to use the people’s money to import a greater percentage of the petroleum need of the nation and sell to the people without profiteering so as to check the excesses of the cartel in the industry who would be compelled by market forces under a deregulated situation to sell to whoever needs their products.
“While this interim measure is going on, an accelerated rehabilitation of the existing refineries should be done so as to reduce and if possible, eliminate importation and its excessive costs”, he said
While acknowledging the efforts of Jonathan’s administration through the provision of N220b SME Fund domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN], he noted that fund has remained largely undisbursed to beneficiaries due to conditions that were impossible for most SMEs.
“We urge the new government to urgently intervene and review these conditions and come up with terms that would make it easy for the SMEs to access this fund and produce the necessary growth in the economy which is the target for setting up the fund.
“The well-being of SMEs is so critical in any economy that desires growth, generation of employment and production of consumer goods that it should not be ignored for a moment.
“Government should therefore endeavour to provide the enabling environment for SMEs to thrive and this should include right fiscal policies and provision of funds and elimination of multiple taxation as well as provision of the critical infrastructure,” Igwe said.

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