The nation’s economy continues to show slow signs of improvement as confirmed by several economic indicators as reflected in the growth of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and this has worried the National Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).
Addressing a press conference in Lagos today, its National President, Iyalode Alaba Lawson, MFR sated that with the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) recent forecast report for 2019 it is predictable a 2.3% GDP growth is feasible for Nigeria in 2019.
She also said, inflation has fallen for sixteen consecutive months, from 18.72 % in January 2017 to 11.61% in May 2018 pointing out that although that is commendable, it is still double digits inflation and certainly not good enough.
“Monetary Policy Rate of 14% has remained unchanged for 23 months and foreign reserves have risen, to a four year high of $47 billion by May 2018. The Naira to USD exchange rate of N360 to 1 USD has remained stable in the parallel market and N305.8 official CBN rate.
“While these are encouraging signs, NACCIMA is of the view that more needs to be done by Government to create a more stable and enabling environment for business to thrive. In all of these we must acknowledged that the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP 2017-2020) has proved to be a veritable platform for recovery.
The National President lauded the efforts by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo in effectively driving the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) which according to her has worked closely with the private sector thereby leading to some concrete achievement in strategic areas.
On the unemployment rate said the stated 18.8% is certainly a conservative estimate.
“Let us be frank with ourselves and lay aside these indicative figures. Millions of our people especially young people are unemployed and we must to do something about it. Hardly a day passes when people like you and me will not receive a CV with a request for job. It’s particularly worse among the youth. This is not acceptable”, she added.
Commenting in the youth unemployment, she stated the following:
“Still on the issue of the youth and employment opportunities. NACCIMA launched the NACCIMA Youth Entrepreneur initiative not too long ago.
“This is to reorientate our young people towards self employment and development of entrepreneurial skills. We are now in partnership with other stakeholders such as Nigeria Export Promotion council, FIIRO to encourage the youth to take advantage of relevant programmes to go into entrepreneurship.
“Currently in cooperation with NEPC, a training Programme is on-going in the area of Export of non-oil products. We are very encouraged by the response of our youth and we think this is one of the strategies to address the issue of unemployment.
“Also we have just been recently certified as an Approved Training Partner (ATP) of CQI (CHARTERED QUALITY INSTITUTE of LONDON). This is a project facilitated by UNIDO under the Nigerian Quality Infrastructure Project sponsored by the EU. For us this is a major achievement because only two institutions have achieved this status in Nigeria, NACCIMA AND STANDARD ORGANISATION OF NIGERIA(SON).
“Under this program here at the NACCIMA headquarters, we can now train our young people for CQI certified courses . This is a concrete way of equipping our young people with internationally recognized certification process for employment in reputable companies both at home and abroad. And also help to provide the missing gap of skilled personnel who are required to turn out quality products and services from the Nigerian economy is in harmony with international standards”.
As Nigeria drags its feet over the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) she said it is on the top on national agenda in the field of trade and Nigeria must key into it in view of the huge market amounting 1.2bn people with a GDP of 2.5trillion US Dollars it would create.
“Nigeria was deeply involved in the negotiations and indeed we Chaired the process. We cannot afford to be excluded from a common African market. Because it a veritable strategy to raise the competitiveness of African economies in the global economy.
“Clearly, NACCIMA’s position is that our dear country should sign the AfCFTA. We as a nation have been closely and long involved with the vision of an African Free Trade Area right from the establishment of the OAU..
“The Association also notes that the immediate impact of the AfCFTA could be the loss of revenue from import duties and taxes which may impede the Federal Government’s current agenda to invest heavily in infrastructure and affect other spending activity.
“So NACCIMA counsels that the government should steps up its efforts with policies that will ensure that Nigerian products and services are market ready for the African continent in the shortest possible time. While we continue to address the issues around the AFCFTA, and work on a strategy for implementation to tackle the problems, we should sign the agreement now and set up an all embracing implementation Committee in readiness for when it would finally take off”, she insisted.
Iyalode Lawson used the occasion to sound notes of caution on the implementation of the 2018 budget, the execution of 2019 election, intended national carrier, promotion of tourism and hospitality, development of the mining sector, agriculture, security and several other burning national issues such as power and infrastructure.