The Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) has called for more incentives to enhance the performance of the manufacturing sector.
Mr Ray Atelly, President, NBCC, made the call at the Chamber’s Presidential News Conference on Tuesday in Lagos.
Atelly said this would help to further create jobs, lift people out of poverty and engender socio-economic growth.
BRANDPOWER reports that the NBCC, established 47 years ago, has the primary mandate of promoting trade and investments between Nigeria and Britain.
Atelly said that a survey conducted by the chamber indicated some critical issues experienced by businesses and manufacturers in Nigeria.
He listed them to include insecurity, inflation, Naira exchange rate, floatation of the Naira, unending tax audits, multiplicity of taxes, too frequent changes in government policies, cost of governance, cyber security concerns, and others.
He added that low manufacturing incentives, frequent loss of skilled workers, inadequate protection for local industries, low patronage capacity, absence of consumer credit also affected business and manufacturing competitiveness.
The NBCC president said the country must provide better incentives that addressed key components of manufacturing such as adequate power supply, access to raw materials and machineries for production.
“It is very important to begin to provide protection for Nigerian products and produces and address influx of substandard items competing with made in Nigeria goods across the country.
“We must let them have preferential access to loans and finances that help them with procurement of vital components for manufacturing.
“Every challenge has a solution. We are more interested in the solutions than in the lamentation that is only time consuming and finger pointing, but serves no viable purpose.
“Whatever the solution, we believe that government must act with urgency like never before and we reiterate that the time to act is now,” he said.
Atelly also emphasised the need to stop handing out cash to individuals as palliative when they can be trained to become more productive.
He said the NBCC,as part of its efforts to drive investments in women and youth, has launched a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), called the Women and Youth Entrepreneurship Development Centre.
The NBCC president, noting that the initiative would be launched in April, called for support from nations across the commonwealth to drive the NGO to achieving its mandate of skill empowerment and economic development.
“It is time to truly invest in our youths and increase their participation in economic activities beyond peripheral roles and borderline operations.
“It is time to produce. Let us produce with rudimentary tools and upscale as we go along. But produce, all the same. Produce as a national policy and flood our markets with made in Nigeria manufactured goods,” he said.
Atelly urged the National Assembly to take far reaching steps to cut the cost of governance in Nigeria, starting with the National Assembly numbers.
He said that while the institution remains an icon of democracy, it should consider reducing the number of elected representatives at both chambers.
He instead said such funds should be rechannelled into a massive training programme for Nigerian youths.
Addressing the country’s inflationary pressures, Mr David Brown, Honorary Treasurer, NBCC, said the chamber eagerly awaited the clarity and policies from the next Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Monetary Policy meeting on Feb. 26.
Brown projected an increase in the country’s Monetary Policy Rate to help stabilise inflation.
Addressing the ban on styrofoam by the Lagos State Government, Akin Osuntoki, Deputy President, NBCC, said health, environment and climate change must take priority over the negative effects on the losses the ban incur on jobs.
He noted that government had done the same thing and he projected a spiral effect on the health and environment.
“There maybe negative effects on jobs but the issue of sustainability, climate take frontline position.
“The rains would soon be here and we would see how much gains the ban brings as it reduces flooding, and other environmental ills.
“Government, however, can find some support for businesses in that sector that may have been affected one way or the other by the ban,” he said.