From Uche Usim, Abuja
Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo Tuesday assured the business community and Nigerians in general that the challenge of multiple Customs checkpoints, especially along the eastern axis will be looked into as government remains committed to creating a conducive investment climate in the country.
The Vice President who gave the assurance in Abuja at the plenary session of the 23rd Nigerian Economic Summit (NES), said there have been several reports from concerned Nigerians who describe the checkpoints as inimical to growth and development.
Aside the Customs checkpoint challenge, Osinbajo noted that plans were afoot to dismantle all clearance bottlenecks at sea and airport borders to ensure quick facilitation.
It addition, Osinbajo said government will implement reforms at the National Agency for Foods Drugs and Administration Control ( NAFDAC) and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to make their operations quicker and more orderly.
While acknowledging that various bureaucratic bottlenecks existed in the country, the Vice President however said such institutional hurdles will be tackled as quickly as possible.
On other factors affecting economic growth like poor power supply, dilapidated roads and insufficient foreign exchange for importers, the Vice President said the Buhari administration remained committed to partnering with the private sector to address the country’s infrastructure shortfall.
“Our budget for this year is about N7 trillion. That is not enough to address all the infrastructure challenges we have and that is why we will always partner with the private sector to address them. That notwithstanding, we are doing a whole lot across various sectors. Interestingly, we have exited recession. We are not there yet but it is a sign that we are making progress. Our foreign exchange reserves has hit $32 billion. We now a dedicated window for investors and exporters called NIFEX.
“Our oil production has increased because about when we came in, we were losing 1 million barrels daily. Now production is nearly 2 million barrels per day. Our debt overhang is being addressed as we pay our cash call arrears.
“There is new confidence in the country. Investors are coming in. We have created the eligible customer arrangement for power where buyer and seller meet and strike a deal. There are plans to break the power distribution network”, the Vice President explained.
On the concerns of high interest rate, Osinbajo pointed out that the issue was being addressed via long tenure and cheaper loans.
He also spoke on food sufficiency programme of the government, stressing heavy investment in the agricultural sector, which began at the inception of the Buhari administration will be sustained.
Also speaking at the event, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma said last year’s summit was organized at a time the economy was in recession, which engineered the government and private sector to work hard.