General

Chamber of Commerce calls for sustained border closure

The Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA), South East Nigeria, wants the Federal Government to sustain its policy on border closure.

The Chamber also appealed to the Federal Government to put in place policies that would ward off inflation in the country.

The President of ECCIMA, Mr Emeka Udeze, made the call on Thursday in Enugu during his valedictory speech at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the organization.

Udeze, who said that the gains of the border closure were rife and felt in the economy, however, said that equal attention needed to be paid on all Nigerian borders to sustain the success of the policy.

While we welcome the ban on certain goods that can be produced locally, government should retain the land border closure and deepen the diversification of the economy through the agricultural sector.

Since agriculture is key to economic growth, government should hasten the plan to establish the 680 agricultural centres across the country as is being proposed, he said.

On the country’s fiscal and monetary policies, the Chamber’s president said that the not too good performance of the Nigerian economy in the last quarter of 2019 was worrisome.

He said that the expectation of many Nigerians was for the economy to be stimulated in 2020 which would have been a fallout of the third quarter 2019 performance.

However, as statistics indicated, the fundamentals of the 2019 third quarter economy were not as strong as government had wished as it did not grow beyond two percent.

At the end of 2019, Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had dropped by 0.16 percent to two percent.

The country may face tougher financial crisis if government fails to initiate aggressive fiscal and monetary policies.

Such policies should be such that will stimulate growth and stem inflammation, unemployment and poverty.

Udeze also said that government’s promise to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years beginning from 2020 could be a mirage except if the critical sector was given attention.

He said it was sad that in spite of huge investments in the power sector, Nigerians did not have adequate power supply.

A tottering GDP is an indication that the economy may experience turbulence if steps are not taken to retool it. The economy should not be allowed to experience another recession in 2020, he advised.

He said that economic experts had projected high cost of doing business in 2020 due to poor infrastructure, multiplicity of taxes, excessive regulations, insecurity and others.

Though Nigeria improved significantly on the Ease of Doing Business Index last year, the concern remains that the performance of the trade sector in 2020 will be shaped by policy direction.

Therefore, government should reconsider and review downwards the value added tax which was increased by 50 percent in 2019, he said.

Udeze urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to boost lending to the real sector through financial intermediation and inclusiveness.

The highlight of the AGM was the election of new officers that will pilot the affairs of the Chambers in the next two years.

After the election, Mr Emeka Nwandu emerged as president while Mr Jasper Nduagwuike and Mr Odega Jideonwo emerged first and second deputy presidents respectively.

Source: Voice of Nigeria