……she urges govt. to sign AfCFTA for interest of Nigerians
The National President of Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Hajiya Saratu Iya Aliyu is one woman, who is very passionate about chamber movement in Nigeria. She lead a delegation from various chambers of commerce and industry in Nigeria to the 11th World Chambers Congress (11 WCC) in Rio De Janeiro-Brazil recently, where Abuja Chamber of Commerce, Industry (ACCI) was selected among the first five best chambers in the world, and won the World Chambers competition.
In this special Interview with the Editor of Skybirdews Group, Mr. Charles Nwaoguji, she said Nigeria was the only African chamber shortlisted to the final round for the “Best Education and Training Project” category through Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI).
Aliyu thanked ACCI for representing Africa and making Nigeria proud. ” We are proud of ACCI achievements and will be happy to share our experience, learn and exchange ideas on investing in education and training as antidote to economic development and job creation through small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in RIO”
She said that in this year 2019 edition of the Competition, a total of 73 entries from 29 countries was received , the second highest number of projects in the Competition’s 16-year history and Nigeria came first five best chambers in the world.
“For me, I felt excited when I heard the news, that Nigeria was among the best chambers in the world.”
“It is a spectacular achievement which has not only appreciated the Centre or Chamber but also reinvigorated the Nigerian spirit of making spectacular achievements against all odds. BEST has made all of us in the chamber movement proud and I can say categorically that, more awards awaits the chamber”, she stated.
She called on Federal government to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for the interest of Nigerians as Nigeria cannot left out.
She further spoke on, why ACCI was selected for the award, urgent need why government must sign AFCFTA, Apapa Traffic Gridlock, Power supply, and other related issues.
ACCI won World Chambers competition
I must say, this is the best that has ever happened to this country since chambers movement in Nigeria. In this year 2019 edition of the Competition, we were told by the organizer that they received a total of 73 entries from 29 countries, the second highest number of projects in the Competition’s 16-year history and Nigeria came first five best chambers in the world.
For me, I felt excited when I heard the news, that Nigeria has selected among the best chambers in the world. It is a spectacular achievement which has not only appreciated the Centre or Chamber but also reinvigorated the Nigerian spirit of making spectacular achievements against all odds. BEST has made all of us in the chamber movement proud and I can say categorically that, more awards awaits the chamber.
The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry Business Entrepreneurship Skills and Technology (BEST) Centre was nominated for the finals in this year’s World Chambers Competition in the Education and Training category because its commitment to duty, selfless service to humanity, patriotic team and zeal to achieve more frontiers.
Taking BEST’s Project to the Congress has offered us the opportunity to showcase our efforts as a Private Sector Organization in Nigeria that is contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals through job creation, capacity development, and business support.
We believe that this initiatives will provide ideas that can be successfully adopted and implemented in other Chambers of Commerce worldwide.
Other chambers that were drawn in the same category as the ACCI BEST Centre are: Gaziantep Chamber of Industry; Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Chamber of Commerce in Styria and Camara de Industrias Produccion y Empleo de Cuenca.
BEST Centre was established by the ACCI with the main objective of operating a world-class learning centre for the development and improvement of entrepreneurship, technology and other vocational skills. It is a response to the massive skill gap and employability problem existing in Nigeria.
World Chambers Competition is organized by the ICC World Chambers Federation. It is only global awards progromme to recognize the most innovative projects undertaken by chambers of commerce and industry from around the world.
African Continental Free Trade Agreement
We support the recommendation of the presidential committee on impact and readiness assessment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which urged the signing of the agreement. The signing of the agreement Nigeria stands to gain more than lose from signing the Free Trade agreement. We maintain that that while this would improve trade among African countries and provide opportunity for Nigeria to export to other African countries. Meanwhile, appropriate safeguard measures should be put in place to protect vulnerable sectors of the economy and to also ensure that there is effective enforcement of the rules of origin. However, we are of the opinion that, in the long run, the nation should focus more on building an economy that is competitive rather than having a disproportionate focus on protectionist approach to industrialisation.
Apapa Traffic Gridlock
We acknowledge and appreciate the recent effort of the government at removing the gridlock in the Apapa axis of Lagos State which has been imposing untold hardship and cost on businesses and making life unbearable for road users in the state. While the use of the trucks’ call-up system by the Nigerian Ports Authority has temporarily improved the traffic situation, we urge that this be sustained and followed up immediately with the provision of truck bays to keep these trucks off from blocking traffic.
However, we are of the opinion that the government should address the fundamental issues that concerns the fixing of the nation’s refineries to reduce fuel importation, ensure that various fuel depots located across the country are functional and used, look for ways of ensuring that imported fuel are channelled through other ports and accelerating the rail construction project as a means of solving the gridlock issue permanently. It is our hope that concrete measures are put in place to prevent these trucks from returning to blocking the roads and impacting negatively on economic activities on the Apapa axis of the state. We implore the government to pay swift attention to the issue of bad roads, especially those leading in and out of the nation’s ports. We recommend that government should create more dry port in the country to move goods closer to the importers thereby reducing congestion in the Lagos Apapa port .The Kaduna, Kano and other dry ports in the country is a welcome development.
Improve access to credit to MSMEs
I personally congratulate the CBN governor on his appointment for a second 5-year term at the helms of affairs in the Central Bank. I also acknowledge the various efforts of the CBN in the past 5 years towards supporting job creation, improving access to credit for MSMEs, intervention in the Agricultural sector, building robust payment system, exchange rate stability and maintaining strong external reserve among others. However, as acknowledged by the CBN governor himself, not all efforts put in place in the last 5 years yielded the intended results. According to him, ‘’everything did not happen as contemplated’’. We therefore see the re-appointment of the CBN governor as an opportunity to reassess some measures put in place to grow the economy in the last 5 years and consolidate or re-strategize.
While the CBN has previously put in place credit schemes to help improve credit access, we note that many MSMEs are still not able to access credit. Our observation reveals that many commercial banks are still reluctant in granting credit to this important sector of the economy. Not many MSMEs have benefitted from the N220bn MSMEs fund set aside by the CBN. We advise the CBN to put in place measures at de-risking the sector so that banks would be more comfortable at making funds available to MSMEs.
We support the CBN’s move towards developing a Trade Receivables Portal to enable MSMEs trade their invoices with financial institutions to improve their cash flow. We are however sceptical about the workability of this laudable idea judging by the current disposition of commercial banks to lending to MSMEs, except this trend is reversed. We commend the desire of the CBN to boost consumer spending through a lending framework that will involve large departmental stores, equipment leasing companies, automobile companies in partnership with financial institutions and credit bureaus. We however advise that necessary measures be put in place before commencement to ensure that the intended goal is achieved as consumer spending is critical towards ensuring economic growth.
This 5-year plan of the CBN is indeed laudable and commendable, however, we recognise that the role of the CBN is in using monetary policies to stimulate growth of the economy while some of the planned targets are fiscal in nature. It will therefore requires that a framework for collaboration with the major economic ministries and other stakeholders be put in place to be able to fully actualise what the CBN sets out to accomplish in the next 5 years. .
Multiple Taxation on SMEs manufacturers
We called for a concessionary tax rate for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in order to promote the objectives of job creation and inclusive growth as enshrined in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). Small businesses more vulnerable to the current challenges in the economy, hence the high mortality rate. This group of businesses, therefore, deserve every support that the government can give.
Foreign Direct Investment-Erosion of investors confidence
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is possible in this country. But government need encourage those investor who are already in the country. when encourage the investors already in the country, it will attract new ones.
We expressed concern about the investigating activities of anti-graft agencies and regulatory institutions regarding alleged infractions by corporate organisations. We admonishes that such investigation, as much as possible, be conducted in a discreet manner devoid of any form of media hype. This is necessary to avoid unwarranted reputational damage and erosion of investors confidence. This position does not diminish the significance of compliance by corporate organisations with extant laws and the imperative of proportional sanctions for proven cases of infringements of the law. NACCIMA is a leading advocate of sound corporate governance in the country. Meanwhile, it is also important that there should be proper coordination between regulatory institutions and anti-graft agencies in dealing with suspected regulatory infractions to avoid duplication of investigative actions. When there is proper coordination among the government agencies, there will be foreign direct investment into the country.
Federal Government needs to pay more attention to the challenges hindering optimum utilization of the capacity in the sector and the economy at large.
The challenge of inadequate electricity supply persisted and made worse by the steadily high electricity price. Inadequate electricity supply remains a major driver of the cost of production, as it constitutes between 30% to 40% of the cost of production. This is not manufacturing friendly and does not support competitiveness as in addition to other challenges hindering production efficiency in the sector ranging from overregulation, multiple taxation, dilapidated port infrastructure and low purchasing power of the citizenry due to high inflation amongst others.