Posted by News Express | 12 July 2017 | 1,695 times
Federal Government agencies will work with the private sector to support research with a view to developing high quality indigenous products and technologies, the Minister for Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, told members of the Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA) on Tuesday.
Udoma, in a keynote address at the Annual General Meeting and 60th Anniversary of NECA in Lagos, which focused on the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), said government was committed to supporting 'Made in Nigeria' goods and services, and was working vigorously on policies that would enable the achievement of the goals set out in the ERGP.
While indicating that the Plan was intended not just to get the economy out of recession, but to put Nigeria on a strong, diversified, inclusive, and sustained growth path, the Minister pointed out that its success would depend on the responsiveness of the private sector to the initiatives being rolled out by the government under the Plan.
The acting President, he said, has set the ball rolling by issuing a number of Executive Orders in aid of ease of doing business in the country, one of which is in support of local content in public procurement by MDAs. This is to support local production to increase employment opportunities, particularly for the youths.
In this direction, the Minister said government has faith in working together with all sectors of the economy, as it strongly believed that the ERGP needed the active participation of all for it to achieve its ambitious goals.
Acknowledging the role of NECA in this regard, Udoma said: “You represent many of the leading industrialists and manufacturers in Nigeria. It is your success that will encourage new investors to come into Nigeria. Your success is therefore our success. You can therefore count on a listening ear from the government as we work together to transform this economy to become the engine of production of our region and indeed, our continent.”
He said that government was very appreciative of the platform NECA had been providing for consultation with the private sector when developing policies on the economy, as well as policies on labour issues. “We also acknowledge, and are appreciative, of the willingness of members of your association to serve on committees that Government has set up, from time to time, to review and develop government policies,” he added.
The Minister mentioned such committees to include: the Presidential Committee on the Resuscitation of the Economy (1999 – 2003); the Presidential Committee on Harmonising Skills and Competences for development (2004); the Wages, Salaries and Emolument Relativity Panel (2004 – 2006) as well as the active participation at the Quarterly Presidential Briefing Sessions, which the current administration introduced to dialogue with the private sector on the economy.
He recalled that when campaigning for the 2015 elections, President Muhammadu Buhari promised three things – to fight corruption, to restore security and to fix the broken economy. The ERGP, he said, is the blueprint the administration intended to use to fix the broken economy; stressing that there was no doubt that successful implementation of the ERGP would revitalise the economy and put it back on the path of sustained, inclusive, and diversified growth and development.
Explaining that in the last two years government has been working very hard to lay a solid foundation for attracting private sector investments and improving the ease of doing business in the country, Udoma said that government had already established the Presidential Enabling Business Council (PEBEC) to specifically ensure policy alignment towards improving the investment environment and was also embarking on massive infrastructure development aimed at reducing the cost of doing business as well as tackling insecurity to protect lives and investment across the country.
He also assured that the government was taking steps to ensure a return to a predictable budget cycle of January to December; a move that should help the private sector to plan. “For this purpose, we have already commenced the process for the preparation of the 2018 budget. Our aim is to submit it to the National Assembly by October this year, to allow them sufficient time for deliberation and passage” he indicated.
In his goodwill message, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige lauded NECA’s role as a social partner which has discharged its responsibilities appreciably and whose moderating and collaborative role had guaranteed industrial peace in the system.
At 60, he charged NECA to do some stocktaking particularly in respect of centralising its operations advising that establishing more zonal offices would bring the association closer to employers who abound in all parts of the country.
He also said the association would do well to draft the informal sector under its umbrella and by so doing help in bringing them into the tax net.
The President of NECA, Mr Larry Ettah lauded government’s effort at working towards economic recovery and sustainable growth.
But while hailing the ERGP as a concrete move towards economic rejuvenation, he noted that nothing quite significant came out of such lofty visions and goals of past efforts.
He recalled comments of past presidents of NECA who severally drew attention to the very common issues still persisting till now, and hoped that the ERGP would change the fortunes of the country and give it a different narrative going forward.
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