President Muhammadu Buhari has commissioned the Lagos International Trade Fair and called for deeper collaboration between the public and private sectors toward achieving more vibrant economic growth.
Buhari said in Lagos at the opening of fair organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) that vibrant engagement and collaboration between the two sectors was vital to improve the business environment.
Buhari, who was represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, said feed backs and dialogues with the private sector will enable the government know if its policies, programmes and reforms were achieving the desired results.
He said that his administration had embarked on various reforms to create enabling environment and to address the challenges that stifled the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises in the country.
The President said that government spent N2.7 trillion two budget cycles on capital and infrastructure development across the country, inspite earning 60 per cent less in the past five years.
He said that the money was spent on roads, rails, power and other similar projects which cut across different regions of the country toward making the business climate easier and improve the welfare of the citizens.
According to him, N15. 2 billion interest-free loan ranging from N50, 000 to N350, 000 has been disbursed to over 400, 000 market traders, artisans across the 36 states of the federation.
“We have been able to open bank accounts for about 349, 000 traders under Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) for the tradermoni scheme.
“We have been able to bring in petty traders from the informal sector to the formal economy so that we can access them with financial literacy and even insurance,” he said.
Buhari said that 56 per cent of the loans was disbursed to women to expand their opportunities in business.
He said that to energise the economy, goverywas installing power, especially solar power in markets and commercial clusters.
“We have powered Ariara Market, Aba, Sabongari Market, Kano, Sura Market in Lagos, Isinkan market in Ondo, Bola Ige Market in Ibadan, Oyo State and Edaiken Market in Benin, Edo State,” he said.
He said that the solar power initiatives would reduce fuel expenses, enhance produce storage and boost productivity among MSMEs.
Buhari said that the focus of the administration was to ensure that ministeries, departments and agencies understood their role as facilitators and not an obstacle to business.
Mr Babatunde Ruwase, the President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said the chamber was committed to the vision of the current administration in respect of economic diversification and self-reliance.
He said that the economic and investment policies must be right and investment friendly to attract more private capital into the economy.
Chief (Mrs) Alaba Lawson, the National President, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), urge government to expedite actions on infrastructure across the country to improve economic activities.
Earlier, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, had said the state would continue to partner with the private sector to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
Ambode, represented by Mrs Olayinka Oladunjoye, the State Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, said the state would continue to promote policies and initiatives that would attract more investment to the state.
The Lagos International Trade Fair, which started on Nov.2 , will end on Nov. 11.