For the economy of the country to experience an upswing in its gross domestic product base, stakeholders in the manufacturing sector have called for a constant engagement between the public and private sector.
With this principle, they opined that government will properly and truly understand the needs, requirement and enablers of the manufacturing sector and thus provide the environment in which manufacturing can thrive.
Indeed, the inability of Nigeria’s growing gross domestic product (GDP) to translate into steady and sustainable development over the years has been linked in part to the nation’s low productivity and uncompetitive manufacturing sector.
Chairman of Sterling bank, Asue Ighodalo while speaking at the inaugural conference of the Association of Company Secretaries and Legal Advisers in the manufacturing sector (ACSLA),said that a country that plans to settle comfortably in the first world must have a GDP tending towards a trillion dollars with at least 20 per cent GDP contribution being from the manufacturing sector.
Worried at the paltry nine per cent manufacturing sector’s contribution to the nation’s GDP, he hinged on some factors that scuttled the vision envisaged in drafting the first and second national development plans such as poor implementation, bad leadership, policy flip flops, the curse of oil, corruption and a misaligned worked force.
Speaking on the theme: “Setting a new agenda for sustainable economic growth – the imperative of forging a public/private sector engagement”, Ighodalo said: “A GDP contribution of the manufacturing sector of less than nine per cent is totally unacceptable. Before we tackle government, what have we done? I believe that if all our companies are well governed, you comply and provide the financial statements that are reliable, and then you can engage government.
“However, the federal government is doing some hard work in improving our business environment and infrastructure. If we complement the work of the federal government with the work that bodies do internally to ensure that their companies are well run and are focused and strategic, then hopefully in the next few years, we will see remarkable improvement.
We really need to get our manufacturing sector working in all aspects as it is fundamental for our economic growth and development”.“Also, on the export permit, we need to encourage export; we need to reduce bureaucracy for exports. So in those areas I believe there are low hanging fruits. I also believe that in ensuring their companies are properly governed, that’s also a low hanging fruit, so they can start work from those areas.”
Bearing in mind that no sector can survive without effective regulations and enforcement, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Oscar Onyema stressed the need to build a viable and legal frame work for the manufacturing sector.
He said that it is important that the current legal and regulatory framework is reviewed to address vital areas, noting that as in-house counsel, it is pertinent to take up the challenge by undertaking an in-depth review of current, legal and regulatory framework with a view to improving what currently entails and by pushing persistently on the doors of stakeholders that needs to implement the change.
Onyema who was represented by the exchange’s legal adviser/head, legal department, Irene Robinson-Ayanwale gave an analysis on how the manufacturing sector has fared in the Nigerian capital market and how to forge a workable private sector engagement in order to achieve a sustainable growth.
Onyema said: “We must all be fully ready to act as catalyst and realise that our respective contributions towards the goal is necessary to galvanise the economic growth we all strive for.
“The benefits the exchange offers the manufacturing sector is global, diverse, nucleus and all encompassing. The exchange is of the opinion that the sustainable economic growth cannot be successfully achieved without a firm handshake between the public and private sector with both sectors leveraging on the financial infrastructure, technology and above all benefits that the exchange provides for the ease and efficiency of doing business in Nigeria and towards the development of the economy in general.”
The Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf observed that since the economy is largely operated by the private sector, then there is need to be consistent in its advocacy.
Stating that the economy itself which is about N100trillion and having a budget of N7.4trillion, Yusuf asked that, “how can we relate the economy to the budget to determine the materiality of the economy to the budget that is about six per cent of the GDP?
He argued that the resources from the budget cannot make any dramatic impact on the problems needed to be addressed. For instance, “Most of the sectors like ICT is almost 90% private sector, education too where government is supposed to take a lead is almost taken over by the private sector. Transportation, oil and gas, hospitals, manufacturing, among others, this is another failure of governance.
“This is to tell you that it is the private sector that is actually driving this economy and therefore if we are the one driving it, we need to ensure that we have the right policies and we have the right institutions, and we can only get that through a very structured engagement with government. We need to strengthen our engagement,” he said.