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Govt agencies need to stop extorting businesses — Osinbajo - PUNCH

AUGUST 08, 2020

by Ife Ogunfuwa

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says it is important for government agencies to reduce the harassment and extortion of businesses in order for the country to improve on the ease of doing business ranking.

Osinbajo said this on Friday at the virtual edition of the Presidential Policy Dialogue hosted by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

He said the government aimed to continue to improve on the national ranking in the World Bank Doing Business Index Ranking to below 100 in the coming years.

Osinbajo called on private sector to lead the charge for Nigeria’s economic growth and development by keying into the Economic Sustainability Plan of the Federal Government.

He said the priority of the Federal Government in response to the economic challenges caused by COVID-19 was to ward off recession using a mixture of stimulus measures to support local businesses, retain and create jobs and ameliorate the circumstances of the most vulnerable.

The vice president said though the stimulus package was just about 1.5 per cent of the GDP, it was the best the government could do given existing realities in the economy.

He said, “I take this opportunity to encourage the private sector to be proactive in leading the charge against recession and poverty in our country.

“The Federal Government is not under any illusion that it can do this on its own.”

“The opportunities that now exist in the short-term in agriculture, infrastructural development, housing construction, in renewable energy, digital technology development, mining, financial inclusion, healthcare and pharmaceutical manufacturing call for the private sector to take the bull by the horn and make them a reality.

“The government developed the Economic Sustainability Plan with a stimulus package of N2.3tn to give fillip to the economy across various sectors. Based on the assumption of the price of crude averaging out at $30 per barrel throughout the year, we anticipate an economic growth of about -0.59% in 2020.”

According to him, the ESP was designed to boost production, prevent business collapse, and provide liquidity.

He added that it would promote the use of labour-intensive methods and direct labour interventions in key areas like agriculture, light manufacturing, housing construction and facility maintenance while increasing infrastructural investment in roads, bridges, solar power, and communications technologies.

“It is intended to do all this while extending protection to the poor and other vulnerable groups in our society,” Osinbajo added.

In his remarks, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, said the current focus of the Federal Government in the manufacturing sector  was on prioritising local production, especially in the importation of machinery that utilise local materials.

The LCCI President, Mrs Toki Mabogunje, commended the Federal Government for the management of the economy, adding that members of the chamber and the entire private sector players were willing to collaborate with the government.

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