Saturday, 7 May 2016

Gen. Yakubu Gowon tasks Buhari on structural changes

Nigeria Former military Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd.), says it will take structural changes in government to get Nigeria out of its current economy challenges.
The structural changes, Gowon said, must cut across the executive, legislature and the judiciary.
According to him, one of the major tasks before the government is to strive to balance the often competing interests of foreign investors and indigenous companies.
Gowon was the keynote speaker at the 2016 PUNUKA Annual Lecture held on Thursday in Lagos.
The lecture, which was organised by the law firm of Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), was themed, “The challenges of balancing the need for protection of developing economies and the provision of enabling environment for foreign investment.”
Gowon said, “A perennial difficulty for economic advisors of governments at all tiers has been balancing the competing interests of the indigenous industries and those of foreign companies seeking to do business in Nigeria.
“On one hand, one has to decide whether to promulgate primarily protectionist policies that are aimed at cushioning Nigerian local companies from incursion by foreign multinational companies. With this type of strategy, one predominantly sees policies targeted at promoting exports and discouraging imports, tax incentives and tax holidays for indigenous companies.
“On the other hand, one has to also consider the many advantages of foreign direct investment that comes with the influx of foreign businesses, whereby Nigeria is seen as a truly international economic hub.
“We need to champion the review of our entire structures from the executive to the legislature to judiciary to reinforce what we already have.”
A professor of Trade and Investment at Harvard University, United States of America, Robert Lawrence, who delivered the lecture, warned against the culture of borrowing to drive the economy, stressing that no nation can achieve sustainable economic growth by borrowing.
“Countries that are able to persuade others to lend them money can in fact experience growth for a period of time, but this kind of growth runs out steeply,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence, who classed Nigeria’s economic growth as commodity-led, which requires high level of discipline to operate, said it was time Nigeria began to consider how to key into the supply chain in the world.
The don said, “The Nigerian President should call a conference and identify the highest supply chain in the world and ask them what they need to operate in Nigeria. There are very few of them. We need policies that can stimulate growth, but those policies require skills. There is a synergy between government and businesses in developed economies. Therefore, profound intervention is the ultimate.”
A former Chairman, Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Sam Ohuabunwa, who was one of the discussants, advocated the application of incentives to drive indigenous industries.
Ohuabunwa said, “We need to apply incentives to create competitiveness. It is not going to be in our own interest to create an economy that is under lock and key. Let us look at what we are good at and sell it to the world and take what they are good at. That is what China, Japan and South Korea have done.”
Earlier in his welcome address, Idigbe said the choice of the PUNUKA lecture theme for 2016 was influenced by the socio-economic condition that Nigeria was grappling with.