Japanese Corporations Indicate Interest To Invest In Nigeria

Heads of Japanese corporations have expressed interest in locating factories and projects in Nigeria following their evaluation of the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

Citing the work of the Presidential Council on ease of doing business in Nigeria, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, stressed that Nigeria is a prime business destination, adding that Nigerians must benefit holistically from new investments.

Japan’s ambassador to Nigeria, Sadanobu Kusaoke, however stated that while the Federal Government’s plan excites investors, they are closely watching the 2017 budget formulation process before making final assessments.

Nigerian Government Rolls Out 33 Policy Actions To Revamp Economy

Yemi Osinbajo Nigeria Vice President on policy actionNigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajor, says the Federal Government has developed a Strategic Implementation Plan for the 2016 budget.

Professor Osinbajo said that the plan articulates six thematic strategies that would constitute the short-term priority of the government over the next 12 months.

In his speech at the Nation’s Forum On The Economy held on Thursday in Lagos State, south-west Nigeria, the Vice President said that the government would focus on implementing about 33 Priority Actions under the six themes in the 2016 fiscal year.

Priority Actions

One of the priority actions, according to him, is a plan for lasting changes in the policy environment, national security and governance. He said it would enable the government achieve an appropriate foreign exchange regime, increase low interest lending to the real sector.

“We need to move toward a single digit interest rate, maintain capital spending in the budget at a minimum of 30%, complement this with funds from the infrastructure fund for commercial projects, intensify the implementation of public financial management reforms to grow revenues and cut costs,” he said.

Professor Osinbajo, however, stressed that there was no plan to cut staff numbers.

“You cannot say you are creating jobs and then cutting jobs.

“We will maintain sustainable debt management strategy, introduce fiscal incentives to improve collections, intensify the fight against corruption by increasing transparency, accountability and compliance with law and order and intensify public procurement reforms in projects to obtain value for money and cut cost.”

He said that part of the first plan was the governments’ commitment to sustaining the fight against insurgency, kidnapping and other violent crimes, terrorism, cyber-crimes, piracy, oil theft and illegal mining activities, intensify the reorientation of the populace through integrity campaigns.

On the second thematic strategy, the Vice President said that the government had a plan to further diversify the economy by fast-tracking industrialisation, Agriculture and Agro-Allied Processing as well as attracting investment into the Solid Minerals, Tourism and Entertainment Sectors.

The government is also looking at implementing measures to achieve self-sufficiency and become net exporters of certain agricultural items – rice in 2018, tomato paste in 2016 and wheat in 2019.

“We want to increase local production of maize, soya, poultry and livestock, so as to achieve self-sufficiency. The deadlines are to be announced in due course.

“We will revitalise and expand agro-allied processing to intensify local production and processing of cassava, cocoa, cashew, fruits and sesame seed, utilize 5,000 hectares of irrigable land in the 12 River Basin Development Authorities and utilise 22 dams for commercial farming activities by prospective investors,” the Vice President told the gathering.

He further said that part of the strategy to revitalise the economy were plans to develop Dadinkowa, Gurara and Oyan dams with 82.5 megawatts capacity contribution to the national grid, adopt and implement a roadmap to stimulate investment into the solid minerals sector and plug revenue leakages in the sector.

Professor Osinbajo also stated that the government would implement the National Industrial Revolution Plan, launch the ‘made in Nigeria’ campaign, increase manufacturing capacity through the operationalisation of industrial parks and free export processing zones among others.

Part of the second set of the priority actions are plans to enhance support facilities to provide increased financial, technical assistance, networking and information to new investors and existing enterprises, implement the roadmap to increase private sector investment in culture, tourism, entertainment and sports and create high-technology innovation hubs to support growth in the digital and technology sectors.

In the third category are plans to make critical infrastructure a priority, which the Vice President was optimistic would increase investment in power, rail and roads.

The government will also optimise the 7,000 megawatts installed capacity and ensure associated infrastructure to fuel, transmit and distribute the capacity, ensure tariff includes all costs of transmission, generation and gas at new price, and distribution company costs required to operate, maintain and upgrade distribution networks and resolve all issues on gas pricing, tariffs and payment assurance.

In the short and medium term plan, the government will also conclude roadmap on gas development, complete the Kaduna-Abuja and Ajaokuta-Warri Rail Lines scheduled for 2016, commence the construction of the Lagos-Kano standard gauge Line and finalise negotiations for the Calabar-Lagos Rail Project, undertake the rehabilitation and construction of 31 major road projects scheduled for 2016 to restore degraded sections of the federal highways network and to establish connectivity over a distance of 2,193km (through public works projects, maintenance works, PPP and other interventions) and complete the rehabilitation of 4 Airports – Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt.

In the oil and gas sector, the forth thematic strategy, Professor Osinbajo said that the government would reform the sector by adopting and executing a Comprehensive National Oil and Gas Master-Plan (‘NOGM’), as the roadmap for the petroleum industry’s development, diversification, privatisation and governance.

He said: “We will adopt and execute a roadmap of gas development and flare elimination, set a deadline to be self-sufficient in refined petroleum products and become a net exporter, work with the national assembly on the passage of a revised Petroleum Industry Bill (‘PIB’) or bills to give effect to the NOGM and to resolve fiscal and governance issues of the Sector, eliminate gas flaring and conclude negotiations to deal with all funding gap issues in the Upstream Sector”.

“We Shall Remain Engaged”

Another strategy in the plan is focused on the need to ease the challenges faced by persons interested in establishing a business in Nigeria.

He said that the government planned to move 20 places up in the global Ease of Doing Business rankings, by implementing fast track measures for business approvals and acquisition of land titles.

Nigeria is currently ranked 169 out of 189 countries by the World Bank – 2015 Survey.

The Vice President told the gathering that the government would also fast-track visa application and issuance processes to further ease the system.

He further stated that the Buhari-led administration’s sixth strategy would focus on social investment and would implement social intervention programme and specific health and education projects included in 2016 Budget, introduce health sector interventions, including flagging off the revitalisation of one primary health centre per Ward.

The government said it targets a total of 10,000 health centres nationwide.

According to the Vice President, the Social Investment plans include the training and deployment of 500,000 unemployed graduates as volunteer teachers who would be paid on the job while they seek jobs in their chosen careers, implementation of ‘Homegrown School Feeding’ for primary school pupils across the country paid for by the government.

The government will also introduce a micro-credit scheme that will provide very soft loans to a million market women, artisans, traders and create innovation and technology hubs and parks on a large scale and provide skills acquisition and vocational training for over 300,000 non-graduate youths.

It will also provide a ‘Conditional Cash Transfer’ where one million poor and vulnerable Nigerians would receive 5,000 Naira monthly and a bursary awards for tertiary education students of science, technology, engineering and maths and STEM.

“Journey to Change”

He told the gathering that, as indicated by President Muhammadu Buhari in his 2016 Budget Presentation speech, the Administration remained committed to economic diversification through import substitution, and export promotion, in order to build a robust and resilient economy, as a lasting legacy for generations to come.

“This Strategic Implementation Plan therefore represents a significant step along this Journey to Change.

“It is important to underscore the point that we shall remain engaged with the Nigerian people, including stakeholders in the economy.

“We intend to start a quarterly meeting with members of the private sector and other economic stakeholders soon and thereby create a forum for engagement on an ongoing basis. Town-hall meetings at the presidential level would also be resumed across the country to explain progress and address the challenges with our people,” the Vice President said.

He, however, urged Nigerians to remain patient and indeed expectant while stating that the government acknowledged the pains and was concerned by them.

“We are working diligently to address the tough challenges inherited from the nation’s past.

“We are taking action and in due course they would produce satisfying outcomes, for they are borne out of a leadership that has no other agenda but the progress and greatness of Nigeria,” he added.

Buhari Returns From Saudi Arabia

Muhammadu-Buhari-returns-from-Saudi-ArabiaPresident Muhammadu Buhari is back in Nigeria after a week-long official visit to Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The presidential jet arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, in the nation’s capital, Abuja, at about 5:30pm local time, where the Inspector General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase, and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory received him.

The presidential guard was also on hand for a brief airport ceremony to welcome him.

The President was in Riyadyh for talks with King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and senior officials of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Talks focused on how to achieve greater stability in the price of crude oil exports.

In Qatar, President Buhari held talks with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hammad Al-Thani, which culminated in the signing of a Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) to pave way for direct flights between major cities of both countries.

Both countries also signed an agreement to avoid double taxation and tax evasion on the sideline of President Muhammadu Buhari’s state visit to Qatar.

At a meeting with the business community in Qatar, President Buhari also assured them that his government would remove any impediment that could hinder investment in Nigeria.

The Nigerian leader also met with Nigerian community in Qatar where he urged them to urged them to rekindle the spirit of patriotism and selfless service to encourage more foreign investments.

Buhari Meets With Dangote, Sanusi And Schwarzman Of Blackstone Group

Aliko Dagote, Steve Schanerzman and Muhammed-Sanusi-II meet with BuhariThe Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari has held talks with the emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, Africa’s richest businessman and the President, Dangote Group PLC, Mr Aliko Dangote and the Co-founder of Blackstone Group, Stephen Schwarzman.

Before the closed-door meeting held at the Presidential Villa, the top Business executives and the Kano traditional leader came into the Villa at about 1:00pm, local time, and joined the President in the Friday Jumat prayers.

After the prayers they retired into the President’s office for a meeting that held for about an hour.

“To Invest In Nigeria”

Also present at the meeting were the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Abba Kyari.

Although details of the meeting were not made known to reporters, it is believed that it may have centred on investments and job creation. An earlier meeting between the business moguls and the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, had centred on their desire to commit more funds into different investments in Nigeria.

Dr Saraki had assured Mr Dangote, Mr Sanusi and Mr Schwarzman of the Senate’s commitment to enacting appropriate legislations to create attractive business environment in Nigeria.

The Senate President said the 8th Senate would concentrate on commercial aspects of the nation’s laws, having successfully reviewed the criminal aspect in the 7th Senate.

Saraki said: “I congratulate you for the first step you have taken in coming to invest in Nigeria and to reassure you that as far as we are concerned, the Senate will give support in any way we can to make legislations that will make investing in Nigeria conducive.

“One of our priorities in the legislature is to look at the private sector and the business environment because some of our old laws have not been reviewed and that is why we are setting up committees to look at and make it more interesting and attractive to invest in Nigeria.

“In the Seventh Senate, we have done a review of the criminal aspect of the laws and brought them up to date and now we are dealing on the commercial side”.

During his campaign, President Buhari had promised to explore all avenues to create more jobs for Nigerian youths and grow the economy through foreign direct investments.

2015 Budget Passes Second Reading At National Assembly

National-Assembly-NigeriaNigeria’s 2015 budget of 4.3 trillion Naira has passed the crucial second reading in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

At plenary on Wednesday, federal lawmakers in the Senate, however, described the 2015 budget as a deficit budget which was grossly exaggerated.

The lawmakers in the upper chamber also expressed concerns that in the face of the declining oil prices, the country may not be able to finance its capital and recurrent expenditure.

The budget is key in the deliberations of the National Assembly, as they try to ensure that the budget approval was concluded before the general elections that will hold in February.

It is one month to the elections and the federal lawmakers in the Senate and the House of Representatives are in a race to retain their seats.

Although the lawmakers are engaging in electioneering, they are required to perform their constitutional duties one of which is working on the 2015 budget.

The 2015 budget is put at 4.3 trillion Naira with a recurrent expenditure of 2.6 trillion Naira and capital expenditure of 627 billion Naira.

Lawmakers in the Senate were highly critical of the 2015 budget, considering the declining price of oil in the international market, which has gone lower than the revised benchmark price of crude, which was put at 65 dollars per barrel.

The lawmakers are worried that the country may have a deficit budget.

A federal lawmaker, Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, expressed concerns that the Senate Committees on Finance and Appropriation would find it difficult to work on the 2015 budget and he gave reasons which also highlighted the current trend in the crude oil market.

Some lawmakers also condemned the withdrawal of funds from the Excess Crude Account without appropriation from the National Assembly and also the refusal of government agencies to remit funds to the Federation Account.

In the House of Representatives, federal lawmakers also expressed reservations about the 2015 budget and the need for diversification of the economy.

After deliberations on the budget, it scaled through the second reading in the Senate and the House of Representatives and was sent to the respective committees for further legislative work.

Nigeria Targets 80 Billion Dollars Asian Investment In Next Two Years

NigeriaThe Federal Government has announced a target of 80billion dollars investment inflow from Asian countries in the next two years.

Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr Olusegun Aganga, who spoke at a meeting with heads of missions of Asian countries in New Delhi, India, said that the drive became necessary following the emergence of Asian countries as leaders in trade relations with Nigeria.

It was a think tank by government officials and ambassadors from 14 Asian countries to make Nigeria a major trade and investment hub.

The Minister said that there was the need to persistently push for the recognition of Nigeria as the preferred investment destination across the globe.

For over six hours, the officials deliberated on how to achieve this set mandate.

One after the other, heads of agencies charged with the mandate of improving investment inflows into the country through oil and non oil exports also took time to explain why the ambassadors should improve investment ties with their countries of assignment.

When the meeting was over, it was resolved that a target of 80billion naira from countries in the Asian region for the next two years is key to employment generation and poverty reduction in the country.

The ambassadors expressed willingness to ensure an upward trend.

Trade volume between Nigeria and countries in the Asian continent currently stands at 40billion dollars with India and China topping the list with over 2.9trillion naira and 2.1trillion naira respectively.

It was the first time in over 50 years that government officials would be deliberating to improve trade ties between Nigeria and Asian countries.

What many Nigerians expect in the days ahead is that resolution reached at the meeting would translate into concrete actions that would turn around the socio-economic development of the country.