Despite Decline, Inflation Rate Remains Strong Concern For CEOs

Though Nigeria’s inflation rate has been on the decline since this year, its remaining above 12 per cent makes it a source of concern to most Chief Executive Officers.

Most of them who were panellists at the third edition of ‘NSE Bloomberg CEO Roundtable’ were unanimous in their submission that Federal Government policies should wrestle inflation.

Ahead of most analysts’ consensus, May 2017 inflation rate came in at 16.3per cent year-on-year (y/y), but down from 17.2 per cent in April.

The CEOs include Andrew Alli, CEO, Africa Finance Corporation; Funke Opeke, CEO MainOne; Demola Sogunle, CEO Stanbic IBTC Bank; Graham Hefer, MD, Okomu Oil Palm Plc; Ngozi Adebiyi, CEO Outsidein HR.

The consensus of these panellists, which had Mark Bohlund, senior Economist Africa/MiddleEast Bloomberg Intelligence as discussants was for Federal Government to create enabling environment for private sector to thrive and contribute to the economic growth of the nation.

Themed, “Innovating out of Nigeria’s Recession: Exploring New Paradigms for Nigeria’s Economic Growth”, the conference was headlined by the Minister for Finance, Kemi Adeosun with over 150 participants, including African captains of industry, government officials, dealing members and key influencers in attendance.

The latest figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show that the economy shrank by 0.52 per cent in the first quarter (Q1) of 2017 raising hopes that Nigeria is close to exiting recession.

Participants at the forum deliberated on how to lift the Nigeria growth trajectories and examined sustainable growth factors that can rebuild economic fundamentals, address structural vulnerabilities and forge new sources of growth.

Oscar N. Onyema, CEO, NSE, noted that the NSE Bloomberg CEO Roundtable was borne out of the need to bring leaders from various sectors of the economy to discuss and proffer solutions to pertinent issues affecting their sectors and examine global trends applicable to them. “The NSE Bloomberg CEO Roundtable has turned into a special dialogue platform in terms of both shape and content”.

Onyema further stated he is encouraged by the insights that have been generated from the various editions of this event. He said the NSE has worked with policy makers, regulators and operators to address key action items such as: FX accessibility, double taxation, and ease of doing business. “We have recorded mixed results, but continue to see significant actions from policy makers in this regard”.

“From a legal and regulatory perspective, we have also engaged actively with other stakeholders to move forward the CAMA, Demutualization, Investment and Securities Act (ISA) bills, and other bills currently receiving legislative attention that will create the right framework for business to thrive in Nigeria”, Onyema stated.

In his presentation, Doyin Salami, an economist and member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigerian (CBN), called on policy makers to focus on growth that is sustainable and inclusive. He stated that government commitment to sustainability of economic reforms will determine the growth of the economy. He urged government to restore confidence in their words and actions and stressed the need for coordination and clarity in policy statements in the country.

Salami stated, “Growing out of recession is one thing, but growing inclusively is vital for Nigeria’s economy”. He went on to say that defining the role of private capital and its protection will be key to Nigeria’s economic recovery, considering the need to attract private investments to drive the economy. “Government must promote the role of private sector in economic development”, he said.

He advised Government to review minimum wage in line with the present realities. “Consumers are under significant pressure as minimum wages last reviewed in 2011 has lost 50% value”, he said.

Highlighting the Nigerian economic reforms and growth trajectory, Adeosun noted that Government is committed to steering Nigeria from the current recession to the path of growth.

She stated that the solution to Nigeria’s problem is not less borrowing but increasing revenue. “If we want to grow, we must address the issue of paying tax. Our tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio of six per cent is rated one of the lowest in the world. We are also blocking leakages with the view to improving our revenue base in the country”.

She remarked that Government is resolved to restore its role of in the provision of public goods and services that will drive economic growth. “In the last 12months, we have expended an unprecedented N1.2Trilllion. Our road spend alone was above N70 Billion compared to just N19Billion in 2015. In 2016, transport and aviation received N143 billion”.

“Our infrastructure deficit is so deep and so critical that we fully recognise that Government cannot do it alone”. Adeosun said the Federal Government intends to revive public private partnership in Nigeria, as there is a huge opportunity to partner with private capital in the provision of infrastructure and social projects across many sectors. (Businessday)

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