Post recession: ‘Fund repatriation injurious to economy’ - THE NATION
By: Muyiwa Lucas
Fund repatriation by foreign construction firms has been identified as a major disincentive to the economy. If the trend is unchecked, the economy will continue to suffer, even in post-recession.
This was the submission of practitioners and experts at the annual lecture of the Property and Environment Writers Association of Nigeria (PEWAN), at the LCCI Conference Centre, Alausa, Lagos.
Speaking on the theme: “Economic recovery: The role of construction sector in post-recession Nigeria,” Chairman on the occasion Dr. Meckson Okoro lamented that foreign firms, usually the beneficiaries of most contracts awarded in the country, repatriated the funds, including profit, to their countries.
Okoro said this was injurious to the economy.
President, Building Collapse Prevention Guide (BCPG) and First Vice President, Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Mr. Kunle Awobodu, listed the government’s lack of commitment as a factor militating against the growth of the industry in Nigeria. This, he explained, is caused by the government’s continued patronage of, and support for, foreign firms over indigenous ones. He said it was a disservice to the economy.
Construction, Awobodu noted, is a determinant of development, warning that if the government’s policies were not tilted to favour construction, the nation might slip back into recession.“Many nation’s development is tied to the construction sector; this sector is the determinant of development in any nation. Government should take investments into construction industry serious, recession can re-occur due to our human errors,” he said, adding that the sector may not record significant growth until the citizens and government learn to use of local construction operators, fearing that recession might return if we failed to do the right things.
The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) President, Mr. Otis Anyaeji, who was represented by the Ikeja Branch Chairman of the society, Mr. Akintayo Akintola, also regretted that most projects had become ‘processes’ because of lack of adherence to completion dates. He said conditions for award of contracts were usually and deliberately made difficult to eliminate local engineers, thereby making nonsense of the Local Content Law.
In his submission, President, Nigeria Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), Mrs. Mercy Iyorta, represented by the Executive Secretary, Mr. Jide Oke, said the political class’ attitude and other challenges faced by the country were responsible for the recession.
Oke noted that the infrastructure deficit was huge, adding that the private sector must drive the sector to speed up development.
Construction is very important, it is the barometer to measure the growth of any nation,” he said.
Okoro, who commended PEWAN for setting the agenda on issues of economic growth and development, tasked the Federal Government to show more commitment to the sector. He, however, expressed disappointment at the absence of the guest speaker, Minister of Power, Works and Housing Mr. Babatunde Fashola, and Governor Akinwunmi Ambode at the event, .
“I think it’s not good enough that the invited guest speaker, in the person of Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, nor the host, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode were neither here, nor represented, knowing full well that the organisers of this event are the message carrier of their activities. Considering Fashola’s portfolio as housing minister, and this being a housing event, he should have at least sent a representative if he cannot be here.I think it’s quite unfair that they were not part of this event,” he lamented.
In his goodwill address, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, expressed optimism that the country would get it right as long as the citizens joined hands with the government in its policies.
Ooni, who was represented by- Oba Adebanjo Adedinni, the Asoya of Isoya, Ile Ife, and Oba Adetokunbo Awosunle, the Elejesi of Ife Kingdom, assured the organisers of the Ooni’s commitment to the construction industry, especially infrastructure provision and housing delivery.
“I’m happy with what PEWAN is doing. Without you, the Property and Environment Writers, most of the success we recorded in the sector would have been possible; I thank you. Your continued advocacy on industry matters,” the Imperial Majesty said.
Other dignitaries at the event were representatives of professional bodies such as the Nigerian Institute of Architects, the NSE, NIQS, the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors (NIS), BCPG, Nigeria Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), among others.
Students from the Technical College, Agindingbi were also in attendance.