Industrial Council approves implementation of power, infrastructure reports

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

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Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah

The Nigerian Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council has approved the implementation of the reports of the five sub-committees it set up last year towards achieving the goals of the council.

The five sub-committees were those on infrastructure—including power, broadband infrastructure, roads—financing for industry; vocational training; trade and market access as well as on policy.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, who spoke with State House correspondents after Monday’s meeting of the Industrial Council, said the sub-committees presented their reports to the council under the coordination of Mrs. Edirin Akemu.

Enelamah said the meeting of the Industrial Council, presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, approved that the implementation of the reports  be done along four tracks.

He said: “There are things that require Federal Executive Council approval, which we will get; there are things that would require work with the private sector in terms of projects they are running for whatever support we will give them; there things we need to do with state governors around broadband access, right of way, around land for industrialization; around harmonization of taxes and so on and so forth.”

The minister said that there were other things that needed to be coordinated with other agencies like the Ministry of Budget and Planning, for some lapses in private and public partnership, and the Ministry of Finance for the Road Trust Fund.

Off to good start

Enelamah said the Industrial Council was up to a “very good start” for the year and was expecting “to see a lot of result.”

According to him, things have turned round for the better for Nigeria after the country exited recession in the last quarter of last year.

He said: “Fortunately for us, we went through a very difficult cycle that actually ended in a recession, but there is no question that things have turned and are turning.  Apart from the statistics of saying that we are out of recession, you can see that confidence has come back to the economy; investors have started investing that’s why the stock market is doing well. We just have to create the enabling conditions for them to continue.”

He assured that things would get better as investments continue to flow in and added that the manufacturing index has been improving for several months.

“All the signs are looking up,” Enelamah said, pointing out that “the main issue is to make sure that this positive cycle continues so that Nigeria would look back and say that this was not just a cyclical phenomenon but actually a circular phenomenon.”

The coordinator of the sub-committees, Edirin Akume, also spoke saying that “2017 ended on high note compared to where we started from.”

She said that there were improvements in all the indices that measure the manufacturing sector.

“I guess for us in 2017 the focus was to make sure that we chose the right projects and the right initiatives, made sure we had the right partners,” she said, adding that the council got the support of Vice President Osinbajo and the state governors.

Mrs. Akume said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s policy on easy of doing business created confidence in the private sector.

The President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Frank Jacobs, who also spoke to correspondents after the meeting, said more work needed to be done in the area of anti-smuggling.

Jacobs said other challenges faced that industrialists faced in 2017 that he would want government to work on were in the area of funding, multiple taxation, power, railways, and roads.