The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) has advised the federal government not to encourage policies that make Nigerians poorer.
In a statement signed by Asue Ighodalo and ‘Laoye Jaiyeola, its board chairman and chief executive officer respectively, the body listed matters that needed “serious attention”.
The NESG said there is a need to overhaul the management and support being given to the agricultural sector given the huge food requirement gap that currently exists in the country.
“Despite the budgetary allocations and huge sums of money disbursed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, a huge gap remains in meeting the food requirements, which has resulted in increasing hunger among the Nigerian populace. Evidently, the issues are beyond money,” the policy think tank group said.
It also urged stakeholders who have raised issues about certain provisions of the recently enacted Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020 to follow due process in seeking review and that the government give them a fair hearing.
It advised that the government to carry out stakeholder consultations on the petroleum industry bill (PIB) so that the law will create the required enabling environment for investment flows, reserves enhancement, technology transfer and utilization efficiency.
“The Group expresses serious concerns about how the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has carried on the business of foreign exchange transactions, loan disbursements (intervention funds) and price fixings without appropriate policy clarity,” it said.
“This can be subject to abuses, manipulations and significant market disruptions, reflective of a policy akin to crony capitalism. We therefore respectfully request the appropriate authorities to properly review this policy to restore credibility into our financial sector.
“The NESG has expressed severe concerns about certain provisions of the ‘repealed and re-enacted’ Bank and Other Financial Institutions Act 2020.
“The Bill contains certain provisions which breach the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution, confers immunity on CBN officials and exempts actions by the CBN from judicial review. These are draconian, totalitarian and inimical to the development of a stable and transparently regulated financial sector.”
It also expressed concerns about distortions in the liquidity and interest rate management, which it said has resulted in rate distortions causing grave disadvantage to domestic investors and pensioners.
“Our country needs to mobilize domestic savings and investments even as we seek to attract foreign investment and we should be careful not to initiate policies that appear to discriminate against or discourage domestic savings and investors,” the NESG said.
Commending the federal government for the price deregulation in the oil and electricity sectors, the think tank said reforms to facilitate smooth functioning of the fuel and electricity market should be implemented.
It also urged the federal government to reopen the borders given its negative impact on trade and employment.
“We also call on the government to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), so that we can move to full membership status and take our rightful place in subsequent negotiation rounds,” it advised.
It said the country’s resort to borrowing to fund the deficit that has now been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic is not sustainable in the medium to long term.
It advised that a strong communication strategy be deployed to prepare the people for the tougher times ahead whilst the current reforms take effect.