The Lagos Chamber of Comerce and Industry has blamed failure of the productive sector as a major challenge to economic diversification.
The chamber said in view of the fall in the prices of crude oil and the devastating effect it has had on the economy, it was important for the country to aggressively pursue the option of diversifying the country’s revenue base from oil to non-oil sources.
President of the LCCI, Dr. Nike Akande,said during the opening ceremony of the 30th edition of the Lagos International Trade Fair, that the, “The pressing and overriding challenge in our quest for economic diversification is to fix the impediments to productivity and competitiveness in the economy.
“If we tackle these constraints, we will encourage domestic investment, attract foreign capital and facilitate the realisation of the enormous potential in the Nigerian economy.”
Speaking on the theme of the fair: ‘Positioning the Nigerian Economy for Diversification and Sustainable Growth’, Akande noted that it was chosen to underscore the critical importance of economic diversification and the creation of an enabling environment to attract new investments and grow existing ones.
She said, “It is also to underline the imperative of building an economy that is sustainable. There is perhaps no better time to do this than now. This year, oil price got to its lowest in two decades. Needless to say, it is imperative at this time to focus on the non-oil sector for diversification.
“The non-oil economy is generally more inclusive and integrated. It is also more growth-oriented, and characterised by high economic linkages; it is more stable and above all more sustainable. It is important for us to appreciate these fundamental dynamics of the Nigerian economy in order to be able to construct polices that will ensure sustainable economic development.”
Also speaking, the National President, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Chief Bassey Edem, urged the government to eliminate challenges such as poor infrastructure, unstable fiscal and monetary policies, and multiplicity of taxes, adding that they made industrial investment in the country very expensive.
He said, “As we may be aware, economic diversification is the process of expanding the range of activities both in the production and distribution of goods and services. It is the widening of the economic activities to create a broad-based economy.
“However, in achieving this expansion, the challenges that make industrial investment in the country very expensive and unattractive have to be eliminated. These challenges include poor infrastructure, unstable fiscal and monetary policies and taxation multiplicity, among others.”
Edem added that a diversified economy would stabilise the country against the shocks that come with a mono product economy and enable private sector operators and the citizenry to enjoy the dividends of democracy.
The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, while speaking acknowledged that the theme of the fair was aimed at addressing urgent issues that would facilitate the turnaround of the nation’s economy for good.
Ambode, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello, pledged his administration’s commitment to working with the LCCI on its advocacy for the enthronement of policy consistency through alignment of fiscal and monetary policies so as to effectively address the myriad of bottlenecks impeding industrialisation, trade and investment.
He said, “I am assuring members of the business community in Lagos State that the present administration is committed to improving the business environment and making it more attractive to investors.
“Our administration will continue to improve on its business climate, attract more local and foreign investments into the state, create job opportunities and increase productive capacity until we achieve our dream of becoming Africa’s model mega city by 2025.”