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Indefinite closure of borders will hurt economy – LCCI

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LCCI President, Mr Babatunde Ruwase.

 

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said the Federal Government’s indefinite closure of the country’s borders with its neighbouring African neighbours will ultimately hurt the economy and cross-border economic activities.

The President, LCCI, Mr Babatunde Ruwase, said this on Friday during the organisation’s 2019 presidential policy dialogue in Lagos.

Ruwase who called for policy mix noted that this was not the best of times for the nation’s economy, stating that the short -term outlook of the key economic indicators was not looking bright.

While he shared the government’s efforts at tackling insecurity and smuggling, he, however, said indefinite closure of the borders would not serve as solution.

He called for reforms in the economy,  adding adding that Nigeria’s economy had strong fundamentals, as the  resources were enormous, the domestic market large and the people resourceful and enterprising.

He said, “The closure of the land borders has enormous implications for cross border economic activities around the country.

“The indications are now that the closure is indefinite.  While we share the concern of government on issues of security and smuggling, we believe that the indefinite closure of land borders is not the solution to the problem.”

Ruwase who recognised that the government had introduced some economic reforms to take the economy out of the woods, said a lot still needed to be done.

However, President Muhammadu Buhari, said his administration was committed to creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

The president who was represented by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, said relevant government agencies were working assiduously on initiatives and programmes to solve key areas of concerns, ranging from infrastructure, power supply to good road networks across the country.

Ruwase  said the major trigger of the economic downturn was the decline in oil price, “as the economy is still largely dependent on oil sector, both for revenue and foreign exchange earnings.”

He said, “We need the right mix of policies to achieve the desired outcomes.  I am aware that some policy choices have been made by the present administration to promote economic diversification, stabilise the foreign exchange market and promote small businesses.

“Evidently, there are still some works to be done.  There is need for regular engagements and communication on policy issues to ensure quality feedback and enrich the policy making process.”

Ruwase said there should be engagement on macroeconomic policies, and sectoral policies, which would include foreign exchange, trade, tax, energy, transport, industrial, agricultural, and ICT among others.

He also called on the government to address the issues of regulatory environment to align with its vision.

“The slow pace of reforms in the oil and gas sector, especially the fact that the Petroleum Industry Bill could not make it through the eighth National Assembly is a cause for worry. And the part that was passed was not signed by the President.”

He said this lack of presidential assent had affected the growth of the sector.

 

Source: The Punch

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