The Senate president, Bukola Saraki has said the legislature is concerned about the state of Nigeria’s Infrastructure especially in the areas of roads and power sector and has therefore given the commitment that Infrastructure development would remain major focus of the present Senate until the challenges are addressed.
Speaking at the 45th Annual General Meeting, AGM of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN in Lagos, Saraki noted that the 8th National Assembly is not oblivious of some of the challenges facing the average Nigerian manufacturer.
He listed the challenges to include, high running cost of production owing to poor power supply, double taxation, bad access roads, general dearth of relevant infrastructure, coupled with counterfeiting and product imitations, and said that the legislature is working closely with the Executive and key stakeholders to revitalize the power sector, create a sustainable infrastructure system in Nigeria, and create the right framework for intellectual property protection.
According to him, The intervention here is multi-pronged at the policy levels, but on the legislative side, we have carried out and are still working on a number of legislative reforms aimed at reviving our ailing infrastructure and power system.
The 8th National Assembly, he said has introduced an inclusive broad stakeholder engagement form of law-making, adding that through the pioneer creation of the National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable, private sector groups and the civil society are participating in the law-making process by providing and engaging with relevant committees on technical support on Bills relevant to them.
He therefore urged the MAN to come up with innovative ideas on how the Senate can through legislations reform or support the production and manufacturing sector.
Saraki stated that the revitalization of the Nigerian Economy has been the central theme of the Senate’s Legislative Agenda, as he raised the concerns that with an estimated $900b infrastructure deficit,and a continuous slide in the price of crude oil, the state of the Nigerian Economy is worrisome.
With this significant deficit he said the Senate has created its legislative agenda with its focal point on reviving the Nigerian Economy, mapping out Economic Priority Bills, designed to create jobs and promote MSMEs growth with particular focus on creating an enabling business environment in Nigeria, infrastructure mobilisation, and access to capital and credit.
Speaking further, Saraki explained, “In line with this agenda, we have passed the Electronic Transaction bill 2015, Bankruptcy and Insolvency bill 2015, the Credit Reporting Bill, The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission Bill, the Independent Warehouse Regulatory Agency Bill, the Secure Transactions in Movable Assets Bill, to name but a few of them. These Bills create new capital mobilisationscheme for SMEs, encourage access to credit, and reduce the potential for non-performing loans. We urge our Manufacturers and SMEs to take full advantage of these new laws and expand their businesses”.
He argued that Nigeria’s economic growth can only be sustainable if we reduce our import dependency, and said , “In this stead, the manufacturing sector has the capacity to be our pillar of growth, by creating massive employment opportunities and increasing our GDP.
The, Senate, he said has rigorously pursued a campaign for Made-in-Nigeria products. “We have also considered and created practical ways by which the Government can show full support for Made-in-Nigeria goods. This is precisely what we have done with the amendment of the Public Procurement Act. It makes Made-in-Nigeria products, the first option of purchase in any government transaction in Nigeria. A strict application of this law will ensure that a substantial percentage of the N2.5 trillion set aside for capital expenditure in the budget is retained in the local economy for our manufacturers”.
He commended the Executive on the robust Economic Growth and Recovery Plan of the Federal Government and reiterated that to ensure a sustainable vibrant economy, our business environment legal frameworks must be safe, friendly and provide an assuring platform for investors, entrepreneurs and businesses.
The Senate president said that the vision of the Senate going forward is to create a robust business environment in Nigeria, with the capacity to generate about 7.5 million jobs in the next 5 years and launch Nigeria as the go-to production hub in Africa.