The Country Director for Nigeria, World Bank, Mr. Shubham Chaudhuri, has charged Nigeria on political will and robust implementations of already existing plans in order to realise its full development potentials and become one of the largest economies in the world.
Chaudhuri made this clarion call at the Nigeria British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) Advocacy Roundtable via zoom on the theme ‘Nigeria’s Recovery Beyond COVID-19’.
“The COVID-19 has put Nigeria in a very critical historical junction. So, for Nigeria, unlike any other country the response, is not just the response to the immediate crisis but also an opportunity to get back on track to fully realise Nigeria’s full development potentials, which experienced a setback in the last four decades,” he explained.
While fielding questions from the programme Moderator, Founder and Managing Partner dbrownconsulting (DBC), Mr. David Brown, Chaudhuri acknowledged that the government has already taken a lot of bold steps such as the Economic Sustainability Plan and other programs and initiatives.
“We heard the Minister of State talk about a sustainability plan, and other programmes and initiatives that are being put in place. The key is going to be the implementation of plans and robust implementations,” he highlighted.
According to the country director, Nigeria has lots of plans but it needs follow through.
He said, “I have to emphasise that a lot of unfinished agenda here is on the basis of structural reforms. Levelling the playing field for all private businesses – small and large – to realise their full potentials to grow, create jobs and to invest. A lot of that requires political will and follow through.”
“For Nigeria, what we see is confluence of large long-standing development agenda that is bound to help Nigeria make progress to realise its full potentials. Nigeria is already the largest economy in Africa.
“It has the potential of becoming one of the largest economies in the world and create jobs for three million Nigerian youths every year. This crisis makes it imperative but also an opportunity to get back on other things.”
He further harped on the need for a robust economic agenda in Nigeria that is based on structural reforms, providing a level playing ground for businesses (small and large) to support economic growth, job creation, increased investment inflows, infrastructure investments with the required political will that will make the nation progress.
Addressing participants, the Minister of State for Industries, Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Yalwaji Katagum, stated that the impact of the novel COVID-19 pandemic has been overwhelming as evident in the deterioration of economic activities across the world.
For Nigeria, she continued, it came on the back of the collapse in international oil prices which along with the lockdown further hampered the economic situation of the country, which led to a significant disruption of supply chain, production and trade activities as factories and plants were closed
“Commercial activities and movement of goods and services within the country was severely constrained; culminating in job losses and downsizing by various businesses particularly in the MSME space,” she bemoaned.
Therefore, to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on the citizens and MSMEs in the country, the minister added that the government announced some responses to minimise the resulting cases of business failures, job losses and increased poverty.
While reminding participants that the nation’s economy was yet to recover from the 2016 recession, Katagum said the MSME sustainability schemes were done because Nigeria could not afford to neglect the huge MSME segment which accounts for 50 per cent of her GDP, and constitutes about 96 per cent of registered businesses employing about 70 per cent of the total labour force.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the President and Chairman of Council, NBCC, Kayode Falowo, said in light of the effect of the pandemic on the Nigerian economy and in response to the Federal Government’s palliative measures to help cushion the effects of the pandemic, the NBCC considered it expedient to host the Business Advocacy Roundtable.
The roundtable, he hinted, aimed to convey business executives to discuss and proffer solutions to issues affecting the Nigerian Business Environment.
“The COVID 19 pandemic has been quite topical, and has indeed set off a global economic crisis of unprecedented magnitude which has necessitated the implementation of stringent policies across the world,” says Falowo.
He added “The far-reaching effects of COVID-19 coupled with the attendant unemployment and destruction to both large and small businesses is a matter of great concern. It is almost certain that the Nigerian Economy will contract in 2020 possibly triggering a recession and the worst in four decades.”
As the 15th president of the NBCC, he listed that the conference would discuss strategies for economic recovery that would be beneficial to the various sectors of the Nigerian business environment which is key.
He further stated that the future of Nigeria depends on the decisions that the government and businesses take.
“As the federal and state governments focus on tackling the aftermath of the pandemic and challenges of the current reality,” he urged, “the discussions should bring to the fore the initiatives and schemes available to vulnerable businesses that may enable them to meet their obligations and safeguard jobs from the shock of COVID 19 pandemic, and in so doing help to boost the Nigerian economy.”
In his perspective, the Executive Chairman of the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS), Hamzat Ayodele Subair, the focus had been on digitalising the platforms which came in handy during the state’s recent COVID-19-induced lockdown.
He noted, however, the fact that the LIRS upgraded its platform and contact center facilities during the COVID disruptions on operations, which allowed them continue to provide services to taxpayers throughout the lockdown, as long as they had access to the telephone.
Subair, ably represented by Mr. Tokunbo Akande, the Special Advisor to the EC, LIRS, divulged that about 80 per cent of the business community has access to telephones, hence, they could provide some modest services to them.
While emphasising that the LIRS formulated some policies as a sub-national entity that serve as palliatives to taxpayers in the state, he continued, “Essentially, the key thing for us to power Nigeria out of this likely depression is increased domestic consumption at the household level”.Follow us on social media