Outgoing LCCI boss seeks closing of nation’s infrastructure gap

Access Bank Plc

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) says closing the infrastructure gap in the country will help accelerate economic transformation as part of efforts aimed at boosting national development.

It has also said that addressing the infrastructure gap in the country will provide an enabling environment for local and foreign capital, thereby expanding the nation’s productive base.

Outgoing President of LCCI, Mr Babatunde Ruwase, said these at the chamber’s 131st Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday in Lagos.

Ruwase said another benefit of closing the infrastructure gap was that it would help to reduce the financial sector vulnerabilities, boost the non-oil sector and stimulate faster economic growth.

He explained that the economy was able to maintain a positive growth trajectory due to the recovery of oil price for the better part of the year.

Ruwase said the country achieved the feat because of its economy with a large market, abundant resources and a productive population in spite of some business constraints.

“The outgoing year was characterised by numerous opportunities, achievements and challenges.

“However, as investors, we had to contend with usual constraints of the business environment with issues of high interest rates, weak GDP growth, traffic gridlock, border closure, forex exclusion list and insecurity amongst others.

“It is hoped that efforts aimed at driving growth in the non-oil sector are vigorously pursued to stimulate faster growth of the economy.” Ruwase said.

He said the headline inflation was expected to trend higher in the coming months.

This, he attributed to a continued shutdown of the land borders, implementation of new minimum wage, proposed hike in Value Added Tax rate and festive-related consumer spending.

He advised the government to reduce dependence on debt financing to fund projects and start considering equity financing to raise capital.

Ruwase said, “Price pressure was largely driven by increase in food prices staged by closure of the country’s land borders, however, increasing inflation may further worsen the poverty status of many and this calls for concerns.”

He commended the government on the attainment of its 15 place upward movement in the 2020 Doing Business Report to 131st from 146th position last year.

“The ranking is Nigeria’s best since 2011 and this reflects the efforts of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC).

“However, Nigeria’s ranking in the West African Sub region is 5th position; we can do much better as the economic powerhouse of the region,” Ruwase said.

Speaking about the end of his tenure as LCCI President, he appealed that the same support given to him be extended to his successor.

Ruwase reiterated the chamber’s resolve at promoting policies that support private sector development and the general progress of the economy.

It was reported that the chamber’s surplus for the year transferred to accumulated fund was N50.95 million.

It was also reported that LCCI elected Mrs Toki Mabogunje to succeed Ruwase as President for the next two years.

The election follows the expiration of Ruwase’s tenure, having served for two years.

Mabogunje’s investiture comes up on Saturday.