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COVID-19: NESG Urges FG To Diversify Economy From Over-reliance On Crude Oil

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The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) on Tuesday called on Federal Government to diversify the economy in order to increase its non-oil revenue and make the country less import dependent.

The Chief Executive Officer of NESG, Mr Laoye Jaiyeola, made the call at an advocacy dialogue on Webinar organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) in Lagos.

Recall that the Advocacy Dialogue, Series 1.0, had as it’s theme: COVID-19: “Tough Choices for Banking and other Businesses.”

“Nigeria has been hit by twin shocks – the COVID-19 pandemic and declining oil prices.

“In order for us to mitigate the negative impact of the twin shocks, we need to as a country maintain delicate balance between saving the lives of our people and growing the economy.

“These twin shocks are not necessarily mutually exclusive and both can be pursued simultaneously.

“We need to also diversify the economy from over reliance on crude oil as a source of revenue and focus more on the real sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and SMEs.

“At the sub-national level, the state governments need to look more inward to significantly increase their Internally Generated Revenues.

“Of course, there is a need to consistently improve on the level of infrastructure in the country to make these things happen,” he said.

The NESG boss also urged banks to maintain more diversified portfolio to avert concentration risk and spike in non performing loans.

Presidency may approve local herbs to battle COVID-19 ―
He urged the sector to strengthen control environment to check against anticipated increase in frauds and operational losses.

Jaiyeola urged other businesses to rethink their strategies and models, saying they would also have tough choices to make going forward.

He advised them to ensure proper cashflow management, as cash remained king while synergising and collaborating with other players within their industry.

For consumers, the NESG boss advised that they reconsider their consumption pattern and build savings culture as precautionary measure.

He, therefore, urged the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) and Bank of Industry (BoI), among other institutions, to jumpstart activities in the real sector, particularly among the SMEs.

According to him, these institutions have significant roles to play in reflating the economy.

He said: “The current position in the country is cyclical and will not be permanent.

“Despite the crisis, there are some opportunities. For example, we still have certain industries thriving in the country, such as information technology, communications, power, etc.

“Our core challenge as a country is to progressively diversify the economy, grow the real sector and create a conducive environment for business.

“By doing this, we will not be only able to stimulate significant investment from local players, but will also be able to attract more of foreign direct investments with a view to ultimately moving Nigeria from a “vicious cycle of poverty” to a “cycle of boom and prosperity”.

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Banks’ CEOs Hold Emergency Meeting Over BDCs’ Forex Ban 

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Bank Chief Executive Officers on Thursday, held an emergency meeting on how to ensure compliance with the new forex directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

After the meeting, they spoke during a webinar organised to give an update on the banks’ preparedness to be the main channel of forex distribution, following the recent discontinuity of forex supply to the BDC operators by the CBN.

The executives assured the public that banks would make forex available to customers in accordance with the CBN’s directives.

After the last Monetary Policy Committee meeting, the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, had ordered all Deposit Money Banks to set up teller points at designated branches across the country to fulfil legitimate FX request for personal travel allowance, business travel allowance, tuition fees, medical payments and SMEs transactions, among others.

Speaking at the webinar, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, said, “The banking industry as a whole was willing and ready to carry out this function. The banks have very strict compliance measures, in terms of verification and making sure that people who do apply are eligible.

“All Nigerian banks will be able to meet these requirements. If you look at all the branches nationwide, you will know that the banks have more than enough capacity to do this.”

He said if the banks saw any compliance issues, or people attempting to do things cunning, they would be reported to the CBN because the banks would ensure full compliance with the order.

The Group Chief Executive Officer, Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc, Mr Segun Agbaje, while speaking on the capacity of the banks to meet the customers demand, said, “It is not only the CBN that has the ability to fund the market; the banks also have the resources to meet the demand, and we have agreed collectively that it will start immediately.”

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NERC: Over 1m Electricity Consumers Have Received Prepaid Meters

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Labour Warns FG Against Electricity Tariff Hike 

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The Nigeria Labour Congress faulted plans to allegedly sell the Transmission Company of Nigeria, saying it will lead to an increase in electricity tariff.

The NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, said this in a statement titled, “This Kite will not Fly’’ on Friday.

Wabba explained that instead of allegedly planning to sell the transmission company, FG should focus on improving the electricity supply.

He described the attempt to hand over the TCN to a few ‘privileged’ Nigerians as self-serving, obtuse, odious, morally reprehensible and criminal.

The NLC president said, “The TCN is a strategic economic asset of immense national security implications. This is because the TCN traverses all nooks and crannies of Nigeria.

“It will be wrong that our country will be deliberately exposed to an avoidable vulnerability and thus, provide an opportunity to others to restrain the Nigerian state.

“We apprehend that the planned sale of the TCN is only an attempt to further confound the people and concurrently raise electricity tariff. Unfortunately, this time around, Nigerians have had enough.

“The government cannot promise improved power supply to consumers by the planned sale of TCN. The under-the-table scheming as transparent privatisation cannot pass muster.

“It is an unsavoury narrative for our country, that even the privatised assets, which have survived the rapacity of the new owners, have been turned into unrealisable collaterals for unpayable loans.

“This constitutes a bone stuck in the throat of financial institutions and sundry creditors.”

Wabba explained that the plan would “fundamentally weaken the security of the nation and above all, deprive the people of their age-old investments in the commanding heights of the Nigerian economy”.

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