By BABAJIDE KOMOLAFE, PETER EGWUATU, FRANKLIN ALLI, GODWIN ORITSE, ROSEMARY ONUOHA, NAOMI UZOR & JONAH NWOKPOKU
Business executives and sectoral groups in the economy have made a list of 23 recommendations to the President-elect, Major General Buhari (retd) on the management of the economy under his watch.
Speaking to Financial Vanguard in seperate interviews, the stakeholders comprising operators in the capital market, industry, maritime, insurance, trade and industry, e-business and advertising advised the President-elect to start from where his predecessor stopped and build on its achievements.
The recommendations are as follows on sector by sector basis.
Capital market operators called on the incoming government, to address the infrastructural gaps in the economy by using capital market instruments.
The operators said, “The capital market can finance the entire infrastructural gaps if the government can deploy fiscal incentives to deepen the market by encouraging the companies in the telecoms, power and aviation and oil and gas sectors of the economy to get listed on the securities market.
The coalition of capital market operators under the aegis of the capital market alliance, which comprises Albert Okumagba, President Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers, CIS, Mr. Emeka Madubuike, Chairman, Association of Stockbroking Houses of Nigeria, ASHON and Mr. Victor Ogiemwonyi, Chairman, Association of Issuing Houses of Nigeria, AIHN noted that, “At present, the Nigerian capital market is underutilized relative to its absorptive capacity. Therefore, the Federal Government’s goal of diversification of the economy would be reinforced if the capital market is deepened to enable it fund the capital expenditure over the short term to medium term period.
Speaking, Okumagba said, “The core capital market operators should work with the regulators to come with pragmatic timetable which will be endorsed by the Federal Government for the commencement of viable commodity exchanges which are either privately owned or government owned. The commodity market should be developed in such a way to provide underlying instruments on which other structured products in the financial market can be developed to increase the number of tradable instruments in the capital market. For instance, futures, options and other derivative instrument on the underlying assets available in the commodity market.”
He further stated that promotion of national savings is better achieved through comprehensive review of the rules and regulations guiding the Collective Investment Scheme, CIS.
“In the same vein, there is a need to amend all clauses that are affecting the operations of the Pension Commission, to ensure its developmental impact on activities in the capital market,” he added.
Suggesting how to attract companies to get listed on the Exchange, Mr. Madubuike said, “Incentives should be given to listed companies and prospective companies to be listed so as to have some advantage over unlisted companies. We propose some tax incentives for listed companies and those that are in the process of getting listed.”
Continuing, he said, “Policies that would promote marketability of agricultural products should be enunciated and implemented to boost operations of the commodities exchanges. Also governments at the highest level must continue to make positive statements and assurances that will engender investors’ confidence.”
In his own comment, Mr. Ogiemwonyi said, “Government borrowing rate in the capital market should drop to avoid crowding out of funds in the capital market so as to make the market attractive for private sector to raise funds. We are ready to support the Federal Government in advisory capacity at any time the need arises on how the capital market can be fully utilized to drive economic growth and development in Nigeria.”
He further stated that the Federal Government should accord regulatory support to the two existing Over-the Counter, OTC Markets- National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) and FMDQ platform to enhance expansion of their operations in the financial market.
Trade and Industry
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI on its part, urged the incoming government to ensure acceleration of reforms on the Oil and Gas sector in order to attract more private investments in both the upstream and downstream segments of the sector.
Reacting to the implications of Buhari’s election for the economy, the Chamber in a communiqué signed by its President, Alhaji Remi Bello, commended the President-elect, Mohammadu Buhari, for his victory and President Goodluck Jonathan, for his demonstration of statesmanship and nobility.
The LCCI urged the incoming administration to ensure acceleration of reforms on the Oil and Gas sector in order to attract more private investments in both the upstream and downstream segments of the sector, as this would save the economy the current huge foreign exchange used for importation of petroleum products.
“Ensure the blocking of all fiscal leakages and wastes in Government, especially in respect of the management of petroleum products subsidy, immediate review of JTF activities in the Niger Delta area where revenue is being lost daily due to oil theft, pension funds, import duty waivers, ghost workers in the MDAs, Service Wide Votes and crude oil theft. Prioritise government expenditure to boost investments in critical infrastructure. Address the challenge of high cost of governance, collapse of the rail system, poor power supply also demand urgent attention,” he said.
He said the chamber urges the incoming administration to address the fundamental of the high cost of doing business and low productivity which could be ascribed to macroeconomic factors, institutional challenges and structural issues, adding that, there is need to sustain the momentum of the war on terrorism and insurgency in parts of the country.
“Ensure a level playing field for all investors across all sectors with regard to import tariffs, funding opportunities, tax incentives etc. Ensure the sustainability of selected policies and programmes of the present administration which currently offer value to the economy. Ensure robust consultation with the Private Sector bodies for inputs into policy formulation processes. Improve the scope and depth of financial intermediation for the benefit of all investors in the economy irrespective of size. Guidelines for accessing intervention funds should be reviewed and made less stringent. Investment incentives should be of universal application to all investors in a given sector,” he stated.
He said the Council urges all aggrieved candidates in the electoral process to channel their grievances through appropriate channels in accordance with the electoral law, stressing that, peace and tranquillity is paramount for the progress of any economy, and any society for that matter.
According to him, the chamber also wants the new administration, to give attention to the plummeting oil price and the impact on the fiscal outlook present a significant challenge to the incoming administration.
“It is therefore critical to manage expectations at this time. The outlook for many macroeconomic indicators is not bright with foreign reserves dropping below $30 billion and persistent pressure on the naira exchange rate. Meanwhile, the success of the presidential election will definitely mitigate the anxiety and uncertainty that characterised the business environment before the elections. Investors’ confidence will be positively impacted by these developments,” he said.
National President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu, also called on the incoming government to look into reports of various committees set up by the current administration instead of setting up new ones.
He said, “All the reports of all the committees that have been piling dust, whether seen or unseen but without any action taking place should be looked into. It is not a matter of setting up further committees but they should look at previous committees.”
Shittu also expressed hope that the Buhari administration would review the implementation of the controversial national automotive policy.
Founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, on his part said Buhari’s emergence as President-elect clearly showed the desire for a different approach to governance by Nigerians.
He said, “What is happening in Nigeria is not about Buhari but a march towards sustainable democracy in Nigeria.
“It is not about Buhari, it is not about Goodluck . It is about good governance in Nigeria, it is about Nigerians becoming critically aware of their environment, economy and their well being.
“From what we have seen now, we can see that Nigerians are consciously and deliberately becoming very very interested in what happens around them. The emphasis right now should be sustainable attack on the issues of corruption.
“What should we do to stem corruption in Nigeria as the cankerworm and what I will say to Nigeria is that it is not that Buhari is an angel but it is the perception that people have about him with an intent to really stamp out corruption in Nigeria.”
Chairman, Association of Registered Freight Forwarders (AREFF), Dr. Frank Ukor was however unhappy with the outcome of the election.
He however called on the All Progressives Congress and the newly elected president, General Muhamadu Buhari to focus more attention on the maritime sector because of its importance to the economy.
“We expected the new President to pay attention to the maritime industry because that is the second highest revenue yielder. I hope the people there will not steal all the money,” he said.
Shoptomydoor.com, an international online shop, Nduka Udeh said the President-elect must through his anti corruption stance, bring more transparency into the business landscape in order to drive foreign direct investment.
He said: “While it is still too early to see and know what the future holds for the economy until the incoming president lays out his economic agenda, foreign investors are typically more impressed and confident in a society with little or no corruption. With the no nonsense stand of the President-elect, we expect to see a much bigger interest in investors wanting to push funds into Nigeria. Stability in the exchange rate will also definitely lead to more companies resuming trade as before and this we hope to see with the emergence of not just the APC candidate but mainly due to the peaceful nature of the transition.”