By Naomi Uzor
The former Head of Interim GovernmentÂ in Nigeria, Dr. Ernest Shonekan has urged the federal government to invest more in infrastructure as it will significantly reduce the cost of doing business in Nigeria.
Delivering a lecture tagged â€œCoping with Global Recession – The Nigerian-British Experienceâ€ at the 2009 Annual lecture of the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce, DrÂ Â Shonekan said Nigeria policy makers should consider launching a stimulus package that can help shore up the nations economy and in particular, a stimulus package that has infrastructure as it focal point can only bode well for trade and investment in Nigeria.
â€œFor all practical purposes, it is fair to say that Nigeria faces the challenge of ensuring that the economy is competitive in terms of attracting local and foreign direct investment.Â The cost of doing business continue to sky-rocket as businesses have to power, water, transportation and other infrastructure directly, the environment simply put, needs to be more supportive of business activities if we are able to boost trade and investment between Nigeria and Britainâ€ he stated
According to him, Nigeriaâ€™s economy is largely dependent on the export of crude oil and the global recession has implied a reduction in the global demand for crude oil resulting in falling prices, adding that the picture that emerges from the foregoing is the need to diversify the economy or put simply, the need to focus on building other engines of growth for the economy.
â€œThere is no denying that there is considerable scope for doing more in terms of fostering trade and investment between the two countries. What is more, it is widely acknowledged that which ever sector of the Nigeria economy we look at, opportunities for foreign investment and trade are immense.Â Britain with her deep historical, cultural, economic ties with Nigeria is well placed to harness these opportunitiesâ€ said Shonekan.
Furthermore, he said that trade and investment flows are declining, unemployment is soaring while public finances are deteriorating, among others and that the fact that our economy is largely dependent on the export of crude oil enjoins it upon us to be prepared to take appropriate steps to ensure the economy is in a position to effectively cope and wriggle out of the recession.
â€œIt is never more so at this time when so many nations around the world seems to be adopting trade protection measures as they strive to stimulate their economy out of recession.Â We need to work with other nations to promote policies that are friendly to trade and we can not afford to waitâ€ he said.
He said the question is how we can design an industrial policy that can help promote export led growth from the perspective of the non oil sector and having an appropriate policy environment that supports export-led growth is of course, a sine qua non.