Weak naira can boost diversification -NESG

Cynthia Okere

Diversifying the Nigerian economy from oil to non oil sectors has been the major focus of the dialogue organized by the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, NESG.

The dialogue which was held in Lagos highlighted that a weaker naira can help boost the diversification move and create better business opportunities if properly harnessed.

The dialogue centered on the new foreign exchange policy which was announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN on June 15.

The implication of the new development is that the naira has been floated and that there will be a single market for the acquisition of the foreign currency.

The panel reviewed the short and long term effects of the policy on business and consumers.

The round table pointed out some continuing challenges which include access to forex, inflationary impact of price rises and the need for effective, consistent policy frameworks to give investors confidence and the hope to plan ahead.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, NESG, Laoye Jaiyeola  blamed the policy makers for not always being prepared for any uncertainty.

According to him, diversification and businesses will thrive better if the policy makers become proactive.

”We know government does not have the finance to provide the infrastructure that we require but let’s make ourselves good enough for people who will bring the money. We need a lot of transparency and openness in our market, we don’t need policy somersault’.’

The Deputy Director, Enterprise Development Centre, Pan African University, Nneka Okekearu said restrictions fuel and sustain the parallel market.

She maintained that uncertainty in the parallel market had hindered investment which might have eased some of the pressure on the naira.

She enumerates some of the major challenges facing entrepreneurs in the country to include; certification, movement of products, poor infrastructure and multiple tax charges among others.

She called on the government to streamline a lot of regulations that make the ease of doing business very difficult in the country.

The participants explained that restrictions and interventions have limited the ability of the market to clear and adjust.

The dialogue was jointly hosted by the British High Commission, Policy development facility phase two and the Nigeria Economic Summit Group.

The panel of the dialogue were selected from the Ministry of Finance, Bank of Industry, SMEDAN, Nigerian customs and private sector groups.