The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), has called for the privatisation of refineries to resuscitate domestic refining in the country.
The Association on Tuesday held its 66th Annual General Meeting (AGM) which hosted its members to take stock of the performance of the Association in the period under review.
Speaking at the 66th Annual General Meeting (AGM) with the theme “Rethinking the Role of Private Sector in National Development”, Mr. Taiwo Adeniyi, President and Chairman of Council, NECA, called for more policy reforms by the government to improve the business environment, boost investor confidence, stimulate economic growth, create more employment and alleviate poverty.
Adeniyi, who emphasised that the theme of the 66th Annual General Meeting (AGM) is apt as global events have proved that the Private Sector remains the engine of national development, and indeed, that no nation can make significant progress without a viable and thriving private sector.
According to him, as an Organisation, the AGM is the end of a year and beginning of another, and a new season for the Association and its members under a new administration in Nigeria, a time when we all come together in the onerous task of nation building.
He said: “Over the years, the Association has been beset with several challenges in the process of carrying out its responsibilities and fulfilling its core mandate of protecting the rights of organised businesses and influencing the socio-economic policies of Government. Notwithstanding the challenges however, our Association has remained strong and focused.
“Though year 2022 was characterised with numerous economic and social issues, I want to salute business leaders for their doggedness and resilience in the face of the challenges and for supporting the Association in addressing them through advocacy activities. It is said that “sometimes we are tested, not to show our weakness, but to discover our strength”.
While speaking on the nation’s economic overview, Adeniyi tasked the Federal Government to come up with measures that will make the country revive its refineries or come up with new ones.
“The Federal Government needs to needs to resuscitate domestic refining. Our stand is that the government should review the current status of the four national refineries and establish modalities for privatization.
“They also need to create incentives to attract private sector investment in gas aggregation to end the current gas flaring and create incentives to increase private sector investment in the petrochemical industry.
“The Association also frowned at the debt status of the country which has become worrisome.
“Nigeria’s public debt has risen astronomically in recent years reaching N46.25 trillion in December 2022. Total external debt stock stood at US$41.7 billion, while domestic debt stock was N27.55 trillion (sub-nation Debt Management Office. al debts inclusive) according to the
Again, with debt service to revenue ratio reaching 115% in 2022, the country may be heading for debt overhang. High debt such as ours discourages inflow of foreign investment, which may dampen domestic investments.
“In addition, there is the continued desertion of key government assets with potential to improve the treasury coffers. Government would need to implement policies to manage its debt, such as widening its fiscal net through incentives that would encourage voluntary tax remittances; block leakages in governance; privatize or sell-off government-owned abandoned and non-performing assets.” Adeniyi said.
On infrastructure, NECA advised the government to invest in transportation sector; road, rail, waterways to mitigate the high cost of transportation logistics in the country, invest significantly in ports infrastructure including scanners, and implement the single window platform to eliminate significant human inference in the ports clearing system and dredge other ports across the Federation to free the confession at the Lagos parts.
He, however, said: “Our commitment to the development and protection of Organised Businesses remains unshaken. Indeed, there is no better time for all Stakeholders of the Nigerian Project to deepen collaboration and strengthen partnership with the aim of fostering a hospitable environment for Organized Businesses, with positive and lasting effect on job creation, Foreign Direct Investment and National development”.