How to fix economy, by Nestle, Airtel, LCCI chiefs, others

Business leaders and chief executives of major companies across the key sectors of the economy yesterday stressed the need for the Federal Government to address the challenges of infrastructural gap, policy inconsistency and fiscal and monetary policy mismatch so as to stimulate the nation’s economic development.

The chief executives and business leaders in the manufacturing, telecoms and financial services sectors as well as economic thinkers and the organised private sector (OPS) met yesterday in Lagos at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) under the auspices of the 2nd edition of the CEO Roundtable organised by the NSE and Bloomberg.

The Managing Director, Nestle Nigeria Plc, Dharnesh Gordon, said the problem of inadequate power supply had worsened due to unavailability of gas, forcing companies to resort to more expensive alternatives.

In a two-point advice to President Muhammadu Buhari, Gordon urged the government to focus on resolving the power problem and to enforce the rule of law as basis for government actions across all tiers of the government.

According to him, government should discourage the tendency by tiers of government to resort to all sorts of self-helps in the name of revenue generation without recourse to national laws on such issues.

CEO, Airtel Networks Limited, Mr, Segun Ogunsanya, said Nigeria needs to develop a vision of her own and channel resources to achieving this, noting that a visionary approach to the development of the nation would lead to proper allocation of resources.

He urged government to take a broad outlook to national economic development, pointing out that while the immediate challenge of foreign exchange (forex) may be important, there are other factors that engender capital and investment flow including infrastructure, political system, security and stable policies.

Ogunsanya urged the government to leverage on the information communication technology (ICT) potential of the country to drive inclusive economic growth.

According to him, government should consider digitalisation  as a viable option for growth by creating affordable access to broadband.

He said the telecoms companies should be considered as part of the manufacturing sector and urged the government to allow broad and non-discriminatory access to forex.

Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr. Muda Yusuf, said government should work to rekindle investors’ confidence in the  economy because capital and investment flows from investors are needed to complement government’s developmental drives.

According to him, government can rekindle investors’ confidence in the economy by the quality and consistency of its policies.

Senior Economist, Africa and Middle East, Bloomberg Intelligence, Mark Bohlund, noted that Nigeria will be left behind if it fails to fix the power problem.

He also underscored the importance of strict adherence to rule of law as this will drive investment inflow into the country.

Director, Investment Banking, Chapel Hill Denham, Mr. Ayo Fashina, called for a more measured and coordinated approach to monetary policies management, describing the current approach as more of guesswork.

Economist and public policy analyst, Dr. Ogho Okiti, said government needs to coordinate development blueprint and identify policy options that will help to drive the growth of the economy.

“Money doesn’t grow the economy, policies do,” Okiti said.

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