Story with agency report
Over two million traders, farmers and artisans would receive micro-credit under the N500 billion social investment programme in 2016 budget , according to Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, who also said that the assistance would be given through a fund to be managed by the Bank of Industry (BOI), an agency of the ministry.
Enelamah who stated this on Thursday during ongoing sectoral debate on the diversification of the economy at the House of Representatives told lawmakers that the lingering oil price crisis was an opportunity for the country to develop a diversified economy based on exports and strong domestic manufacturing sector.
He said that government’s plans in this regard were based on four pillars, one of which is creation of an enabling environment for industry, trade and investment in Nigeria.
To this end, he said that the ministry was working to position itself as an enabler and facilitator of business and investment in the country.
“By enabling environment, we mean one in which it is progressively easier to do business, policies are predictable and consistent, the government acts as a partner to business and investments, not a competitor or an adverse regulator, and there is increasing macro-economic stability.
“In the weeks and months ahead, we will be unveiling a number of important initiatives that will help to address Nigeria’s historically poor performance on various global competitiveness and ease of doing business indices.
“These concrete initiatives will focus on removing the many obstacles that stand in the way of business and business innovation in Nigeria.
The minister described infrastructure as the singular most important enabler of business in any country, including Nigeria.
“By infrastructure, we mean not only the hard infrastructure like transport networks and reliable power supply, but soft infrastructure like transparent regulation, policy consistency, the rule of law and a culture of efficient collaboration and synergy among various government’s agencies and offices.’’
Enelamah said that the second pillar was the implementation of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP), which was launched in 2014 by the immediate past administration.
According to him, effective implementation of the NIRP would aid the country’s desired transition from being an exporter of commodities and raw materials to being an industrial economy.
“It is now time to move from plan to action. It is now our duty to implement that plan in light of current realities taking into consideration the lessons learnt since it was unveiled.
“We are focussed on identifying and supporting a select number of sectors in which Nigeria has a comparative advantage.
“We have seen success in the industrialisation policies, in the cement industry, and sugar is currently trying to replicate that success.
“In the automotive and cotton, textile and garment industries we are continuing to engage the players and stakeholders to see how we can better implement an industrial policy that creates jobs, provide inclusive growth and shared prosperity.’’
The minister said that the third plank of the diversification plan was to champion the cause of MSMEs as a means of creating jobs and achieving inclusive growth
Describing MSMEs as the unsung heroes of the nation’s economy, Enelamah noted that the sector possessed the potential to be more productive if given the right incentive.
He said the ministry would soon roll out programmes and initiatives focussing on supporting the sector in the areas of financing, infrastructure, technical support and training.
The fourth, according to the minister, is the attraction of long term local and foreign investments into the economy.
He noted that these challenging times called for the deployment of informative financing solutions targeted at unlocking capitals whenever it could be found.