‘Sustainability, policy predictability key concerns for foreign investors’
For key investments needed to spur the economy to become domiciled in the country, the Nigerian government would have to commit to its policies and sustainably implement them in line with its development goals.
This was the view of operators in the private sector as well as envoys of the United States and United Kingdom during the investment conference organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) in Lagos, yesterday.
According to the stakeholders, while it is necessary for government’s policies to be directed at sectors that create jobs, policies should be evaluated for efficiency and to ensure that they are achieving the set objectives.
For instance, the Deputy High Commissioner, British High Commission, Ms Laure Beaufils said: “What investors are looking at is predictability in decision making and application of regulation and that the rule of law was systematically applied. They are watching keenly what is happening in Nigeria going forward.
“These are issues that investors look at; they are interested in regulations, policies and strategies and they look at signals from the regulators.
“There is a lot that is going on right now to address the issue. Though we are aware of such efforts, investors most times do not go beyond the headlines
“What we advise today is that rash decisions should be avoided in the interest of further investment which are absolutely essential to the economic development of the country, job creation and vision that we have of an incredibly vibrant and rich Nigeria”.
On his part, the Consul General, United States High Commission, John Bray stated that Nigeria could benefit so much from the recently created U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (USIDFC) if it is able to attract American investors, as the corporation seeks to support businesses investing in emerging markets like Nigeria.
LCCI President, Babatunde Ruwase, said Nigeria is in dire need of private investment to create jobs, diversify the economy, grow government revenue and improve the welfare of the people.
He said: “It is gratifying that government at all levels have now realised the urgent imperative of economic diversification. I believe that the non-oil economy is more inclusive and integrated. It is also more growth-oriented, offers better job creation prospects and characterised by high economic linkages, more stable and above all more sustainable.
“In all of these, the quality of the investment environment is very crucial. The World Bank’s Doing Business 2019 report showed a marginal drop in ranking from 145 to 146. This underscored the need for more attention to be focused on business environment issues. We believe that more can still be done to make the country more competitive.
“For us to attract private investment our policies must be right and our institutions must be friendly. These conditions are important to stimulate both domestic and foreign investment”.
Also, the Chief Executive Officer of MainOne Cable Company Nigeria Limited, Ms Funke Opeke urged government to address issues of taxation in the ICT sector and re-visit policies that are not producing desired results.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) and Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Industry, Trade & Investment, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, while speaking on the World Bank report, said: “The feedback from the World Bank has reaffirmed the commitment of the PEBEC to remove bureaucratic bottlenecks faced by businesses in Nigeria as we work towards improving the country’s competitiveness.
“The response from the private sector has also underscored the need for increased engagement between reform-implementing organs of government and the private sector players to ensure we are able to record sustainable progress. We strongly believe that while Nigeria did not increase in the rankings, the country has indeed witnessed an improvement in the enabling business environment in the past year. This will be reflected as more reforms are accepted for Nigeria by the World Bank Index in subsequent years”.