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Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) says President Muhammadu Buhari will need to prioritise policies directed at strengthening the productive sector of the economy where lies the potential to create jobs and reduce the country’s frightening unemployment rate.
Buhari is to take an oath of office on Wednesday, May 29, 2019, for the second term of four years that will lapse on May 29, 2023. His first four years have seen Nigeria struggling with compounding economic woes.
Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show that youth unemployment rate averaged 23.63 percent from 2014 until 2018, reaching an all-time high of 38 percent in the second quarter of 2018, with millions of the citizens continuing to fall below the poverty line.
Timothy Olawale, director-general of NECA, in a document titled “NECA’s Agenda for Government,” made available to BusinessDay on Monday, said the real sector in the last four years had struggled against burdensome taxation, poor access to funding, regulatory insensitivity, even as interventions by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) did little to strengthen to the sector.
He said “among the urgent support needed by the real sector is access to single digit capital, a business-friendly exchange rate regime, policy to ensure the patronage of made-in-Nigeria goods, concerted efforts at curbing smuggling and associated activities, bail-outs and corporate tax incentives that will enable the expansion of local businesses, enforcement of harmonised taxes and levies by the Joint Tax Board at all levels of government.”
The employers’ body also pointed to the need for the government in its second term to build infrastructure as critical enabler of development. It called on the government to take urgent steps towards the completion of the Apapa Ports road, the Agbara Industrial Estate road and other strategic roads across the country, including rail networks to fast-tracked easy movement of goods.
Necessary support should be given to the players in the Power Sector in the interest of the nation.
NECA decried the roles of some of the regulatory agencies of the government in the last four years, which tended to stifle businesses rather than encourage and promote entrepreneurship, saying this had been checked, as the President was set to begin another term of four years.
It argued that the success of any regulatory agency should not be measured by how much income is generated or how many organisations it was able to sanction, but how many businesses it facilitated and supported to thrive, stressing that “there is a need to encourage the growth of the real sector through a friendly regulatory environment.”
It also urged the government to pay particular attention to genuine diversification of the income structure of the nation in order to drastically reduce the over-dependence on proceeds from the export of crude oil cannot be over-emphasised.
“The foundation of the crippling recession that our nation experienced was the shock caused by the volatility in the global oil market. The lesson here should be the acceleration of the diversification agenda with a greater focus on the implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP),” it said.