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N500b Industrial Revival Fund, Too Early to Celebrate — LCCI

By Naomi Uzor

Following a recent public hearing in the National Assembly announced by the minister of commerce and industry, Chief Achike Udenwa, on the proposal of government to create N500 billion industrial revival fund, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said it welcomes the concern expressed by the government on the plight of the Nigerian industrial sector but perhaps too early to celebrate.

Speaking at the quarterly press conference at the chamber, the President of the LCCI, Solomon Onafowokan said the chamber welcomes the concern expressed by the government on the plight of the Nigerian industrial sector but perhaps too early to celebrate as the minister himself had started that it is still a mere proposal.
“The concept is yet to be properly articulated, the source of funding is also yet to be disclosed. generally, there are too many unanswered questions about this proposal; we would rather wait for the details.  But having said that, let me emphasize what it is paramount for the private sector is the creation of an enabling environment.  In the recent past, we have witnessed many funds = the N50 billion agric revitalisation fund, the N70 billion textile fund, the sugar development fund, the automotive development fund and the rice development fund, the experience with these funds is nothing to cheer” he noted.

As investors, he continued, what is needed is an investment climate that will reduce operating cost, cheap fund from financial system, long term funds from banks and a regime of policy consistency.

“We want a more inclusive policy formulation process, we want our institutions and citizens to patronize made in Nigeria goods, we want the customs and related agencies to curb smuggling and dumping, we want a level playing field for all investors in the Nigerian economy and we want the bureaucracy to be more investment friendly.  These are some of the critical concerns that we have as investors, it is good to create funds, but it is better to create a sustainable enabling environment” he said.

On the issue of global economy, he said much of what we are experiencing today are largely attributable to developments in the global economy particularly the global financial crisis.  The good news is that the global economy is beginning to pull out of recession, according to the recent update on the global economic outlook released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  The July outlook update indicated a global growth projection of 2.5 per cent for 2010 as against an earlier prediction of 1.5 per cent.  The growth outlook for sub-Sahara Africa was 4.1 per cent per cent. The National Bureau of Statistics growth forecast for Nigeria’s overall GDP is even more optimistic at 5.75 per cent for the current year.

“The global economic recovery is also beginning to manifest in the recovery of the crude oil prices.  The rather gloomy outlook of 2008 is beginning to give way to some optimism.  The last two months witnessed an average oil price of over $65 per barrel, although the domestic challenge of sub-optimal output has persisted because of the security challenges in the oil producing areas” he stated.


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