Isaac Anumihe, Abuja
The Federal Government has stated its determination to develop world-class Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in each of the six geo-political regions of the country.
It said it would achieve this in partnership with the state governments and the private sector.
Speaking to investors at the United Nation’s General Assembly in New York, at the weekend, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, also expressed government’s interest in scaling up investment in Nigeria.
Enelamah told the investors that the ministers came to meet them (investors) in New York to demonstrate their (ministers) readiness to serve, saying that they are easily accessible to address any problems which investors may experience.
In his remarks, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, said Nigeria’s president, Mohammadu Buhari, had promised the people that he would restore peace in the troubled zones of the country, fight corruption and grow the economy.
“The Buhari administration has worked hard to ensure that those election promises are fulfilled. The present government inherited a challenged economy with very weak fundamentals. But it has worked hard towards not only getting the economy out of recession, but placing it on a path of sustained inclusive growth through a series of policy initiatives and deliberate actions,” the Minister said. Diligent implementation of the initiatives, he said, has resulted in the economy emerging from recession within a short time and beginning to grow again. He emphasised the fact that Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) is anchored on partnership with the private sector with the government helping to create the enabling environment.
That is why, he noted, the government is focused on improving the country’s infrastructure and creating an environment with improvements in the ease of doing business to encourage and attract local and global investors. Government, according to him, is also focused on social development by increasing investments in education and health so as to improve the quality of the country’s education and health facilities.
He noted the importance of having a well educated, healthy and productive nation, assuring the gathering that there is no cause for investors to worry about next year’s general elections, as there will be no slow-down in the implementation of government programmes and policies in the period leading up to the elections.
He explained that the ERGP is a medium term economic blueprint, which runs through 2020, adding that the plan was produced after extensive consultations with all relevant sectors, including the sub-national governments, private sector, academia, development partners and civil society organisations, and was endorsed by the National Assembly and the National Economic Council (NEC), among others. “It is a Nigerian document accepted by all Nigerians,” he said.
For her part, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, explained that significant progress has been made with the implementation of many of the policy initiatives of government, citing the stabilisation of the country’s currency, consistent downward trend of inflation, increased foreign reserves, fiscal discipline in government, and a commitment to creating a conducive business environment. There has also been increased revenues, she said, noting that these developments have helped in increasing investor confidence in Nigeria.
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Ahmed explained that government officials are under instruction from the president to stay focused on the business of governance notwithstanding the upcoming elections.
Also speaking, Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, confirmed that state governments have been working closely with the Federal Government through the National Economic Council (NEC) to create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the country.
“States are the laboratories where all Federal Government policies are being implemented. They are the platforms for practicalising the policies and initiatives brewed in Abuja,” he said.
The sub-national governments are also driven by a sense of urgency to grow the economy, Obaseki said. His priority, as a governor, is to build the capacity of his people and attract investment to his state which is strategically located as the gateway to both the eastern and western parts of the country, as well as the North central region, he said.
The event was organised by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) and was moderated by Peter Tichansky, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU). It was attended by more than 31 international organisations, including chief executive officers and representatives from Shell Oil Company, Walmart, Motorola Solutions, Coca Cola, Boeing International, United Arab Emirates, Procter and Gamble, AAR Corporation, 3M, APR Energy, Gilead Sciences, SAAB Middle East and Africa, American Tower Corporation, Oliver Wyman Corporation, Rendeavous, IMS Engineers, Credence ID, Abbott Laboratories, Medtronic, Lafarge CIM Nigeria, Flour Mills of Nigeria, Olam Nigeria and ACIOE LLC, among others.