By Tony Edike
ENUGU – PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has challenged the organised private sector to strive to stimulate economic activities through the promotion of value added export of diverse non-oil exportable commodities with a view to boosting the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
He declared that his administration was poised to diversify the nation’s economic base from crude oil export in order to stabilise the economy and insulate it from the vicissitudes of oil market.
Declaring open the 22nd Enugu International Trade Fair, President Jonathan, who was represented on the occasion by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Abubakar Mohammed, recalled that the country, for over 30 years, had been cuddling only one product —crude petroleum— for its export, while it had the potential to produce and export a wide range of products and services, including solid minerals.
The president, who described the theme of this year’s fair, which is “Diversification of the nation’s economy for sustainable development” as timely, said: “Our focus as a nation should be geared towards the development of a new economic agenda, aimed at promoting sustainable growth and development in the various sectors of the economy.”
Public-Private Sector Partnership
He reiterated the intention of the Federal Government to use the Public-Private Sector Partnership, PPP, initiative to drive growth and development of the nation’s economy, explaining that under the arrangement, “the private sector is free to participate in the development process, either alone or in partnership with the government.
“The essence of this partnership are, among other things, to bridge the wide gap between the demand for and supply of infrastructure, increase efficiency through competition, increase responsiveness to opportunities, and mobilise private resources for the development of infrastructure which was hitherto solely provided by government,” he explained, adding that increasing the role of the private sector did not necessarily reduce the responsibility of government in anyway.
Calling on the organised private sector to join hands with the government as reliable partners in progress to actualise various reforms targeted at boosting the economy, Jonathan, however, assured that the government would continue to ensure a conducive atmosphere for investments to thrive by providing necessary infrastructure and transparent regulatory framework.
In an address, the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Senator Jubril Martins-Kuye, commended the leadership of Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, ECCIMA for staging the fair and urged it not to relent in its effort to promote domestic and international trade in the country.