The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce Industry, Mines and Agriculture (Naccima) has taken a swipe on the federal government for the poor state of the economy blaming the lackluster performance of the economy on the harsh operating business environment, saying since the beginning of the year the economy is still not conducive as desired.
Naccima said “There seems to be no end in sight for a better operating environment such as adequate infrastructure, security of lives and property, better tax regime (as opposed to multiple taxes); low inflation and lending rates, among others,” adding that the absence of an ideal business environment has continued to make the cost of doing business in Nigeria very high, “as it has also rendered our economy largely uncompetitive.”
Dr. Herbert Ajayi, Naccima boss, said that the real sector of the economy is still faced with gross inadequacy of power and energy supply, which has negatively affected capacity utilisation in industries.
Ajayi noted that though the organised private sector (OPS) has observed that it marginally improved from 44 per cent in June 2010 to 47 per cent in December, 2010, it is yet to hit the 50 per cent projected level in 2011.
He also lamented the rising interest rate in the country saying that in the first half of 2011, there was a wide gap between the savings and lending rates, which discouraged savings and investments. According to him, the cost of funds presently ranges from 15 per cent - 30 per cent, depending on the profile of firms, and this has implications for the global competitiveness of Nigerian firms.
On the exchange rate, Naccima noted the management, especially in the first and second quarters of 2011, has been a bit unstable due to the depletion in Nigeria’s external reserves and rising imports in the face of low domestic production due to poor infrastructure.
The rate in the official market was N151.62 to the dollar at the beginning of the year and N154.80 to the dollar at the end of May, 2011. In the parallel market, the rate was around N159 to the dollar. External reserves also fell from $34.52 billion in January, 2011 to $32.89 as at June 2011.
“The business community continued to grapple with the usual challenging operating environment and infrastructural constraints, particularly the perennial power and energy crisis,” Naccima said noting that however, performances in some other sectors like financial services, telecommunications, constructions and food & beverages were generally satisfactory. But the conditions of the small and micro enterprises have not improved in any material sense as access to credit remained a big challenge, Naccima noted.
Ajayi expressed support for the new national minimum wage of N18, 000 recently signed into law for workers in the public sector and private sector companies that have up to 50 staff saying that it considered it imperative for all to comply with this policy which will empower the citizenry and improve their living standard. It pleaded that workers should see this as an incentive for them to also improve on their productivity to justify and to sustain the payment of the new wage.