Pat Utomi, Professor of Political Economy, Tony Elumelu, the Chairman, UBA Group and Heirs Holdings, and other experts have tasked the Federal Government to create enabling environment for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) growth.
The experts, who spoke at the 24th yearly Lift Above Poverty Organisation (LAPO) Development Forum in Lagos, on the theme “Galvanizing SMEs for Inclusive Development” stressed the need for government to prioritise the ease of doing business, create institutional support for SMEs as well as create jobs opportunities for the youths.
Specifically, Elumelu, advised the Federal Government to tackle the issue of policy somersaults to enhance the growth of SMEs.
He said that the continuous crumbling of SMEs as result of policy summersault would add to the increased of poverty level adding that the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ report entitled: “World Population Prospects, the 2017 Revision’’, showed that Nigeria might likely double its current population and overtake the U.S by 2050.
Elumelu, represented by Mr. Adim Jibunoh, the Chief Executive Officer, Transitional Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp), said that the unstable foreign exchange regime on indigenous businesses, tax and environmental policies had influenced the SMEs.
He also pointed out that galvanizing SME’s towards the part of development goes beyond government alone but also private sector adding that the future of this economy is SME’s.
According to Utomi, government needs to strengthen institutions and regulatory authorities to make businesses thrive and seamless. He noted that this would give a major push to export of SME goods continentally.
“SMEs are where most people work. One of the most challenging conversations that we have about economic growth, job creation and all of that is that we are looking for foreign investors, we are looking for big cooperation to come and set up, but what most people want are SMEs.
“If you think about it, the oil industry directly employs less than 10 Nigerians but where most people work in companies that employ just more than 10 people and less than 100. So, it is important to take this sector seriously.”
In his welcome address, the founder of LAPO Mr. Godwin Ehigiamusoe explained that SMEs are precursors of nigeria’s envisaged industrialization and economic development because they have played the role in the formative or take-off stage of the advanced economies in the world.
He stated that there is a great oppourtunity for unleashing the potentials of the Nigeria economy for growth and development if the nation takes time and commitment to properly organize SMEs.