All eyes are on the Federal Minister for Trade and Investment Olusegun Aganga and his team to deliver on the many industrial projections in the New Year, Ayodele Samuel writes.
Reduced Cement Price
Currently Cement in major parts of the country is sold for 1,800 but Aganag has assured of reduction in the New Year.
Announcing plans to tackle the perpetually high price of cement in the country, which the minister said is inconsistent with the current level of local production of the commodity, he said that Nigeria has become a net exporter of cement and that efforts would be sustained in boosting Nigeria's output, which is currently at 28.5 mmt to get it to 32mmt by 2015, and also to reduce the price by 2014.
"The second phase review of the cement policy will commence in 2014 and some of the issues to be addressed include how to bring down the price of cement and how to open up the uses of cement especially in road construction in order to create more market for the product."
Reduction in the price of cement this year would spring up construction among middle class members of the society who has been lamenting the high cost of the commodity.
Aganga also promised that the Federal Government's main focus this year, is to process the country's agriculture raw materials for export.
"As a nation, we will be devaluing our potential if we continue to buy our own raw commodities from other nations that have the technology to convert primary goods to secondary products.
"Internal value addition will reduce the bulk export of our raw materials, which are processed and then sold back to us at exorbitant prices,'' he said.
Aganga noted that the ability to process raw materials internally would boost Nigeria's foreign exchange earnings, while reducing capital flight.
N15. 4 trillion FDI
Nigerians should also be expecting about $96 billion (about N15. 4 trillion) foreign direct investment in its economy this year.
Aganga noted that some of the achievements of his ministry last year included the attainment of an investment pipeline of $96 billion, which he hoped, would materialise into concrete investments in the non oil and gas sector this year.
"These investments will go into petrochemical, fertiliser and telecommunication sector.
"We have $96 billion foreign investments in the pipeline and they are coming from United States of America, $1.4 billion through General Electric; South Africa, $3 billion; China, $9.3 billion; United Arab
Emirate, $4 billion, among other countries.
The ministry generated $7.4 billion (N1.2 trillion), as revenue for the Federal Government in 2013. Aganga said the industrial revolution plans put in place by his administration have started
yielding positive results as foreign investors will be investing $96 billion in the country next year.
Improved Business environment
Private business operators in the country have always lament poor business environment. Aganga added that government has embarked on far-reaching reforms aimed at improving the business climate and making the country the preferred investment hub in Africa and globally.
According to him, Nigeria currently has a very strong macroeconomic environment and this has made the economy attractive to both domestic and foreign investors.
"Today, Nigeria has a very strong macroeconomic environment and this has made the economy attractive to both domestic and foreign investors.
"UNCTAD has rated Nigeria the No. 1 investment hub in Africa and 4th globally with 35 per cent returns on investment."
Aganga said plans are at top gear to remove barriers to trade as well as the ease of doing business in the country.
According to him, issues of regional integration, trade with economic blocs, competitiveness, visa barriers and implementation of reviewed trade and investment laws would form part of its activities in the New Year.
Aganga said his ministry was working with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) towards significantly boosting the nation's investment climate in 2014.
He noted government's resolve to leverage the OECD and World Economic Forum (WEF) to boost FDI through engaging the international community in Nigeria.
He vowed to sustain the progress made last year, saying "we want to sustain what we have achieved by doing what we ought to do because of competitors in the region and globally.
"In view of this, we invited Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD, to review our investment climate and tell us how to do better.
"They have reviewed and presented their findings to President Goodluck Jonathan in London and in Abuja.
"The objective is that we want to attract investments from OECD countries as they control 60 per cent of global investments."
He disclosed that the ministry has also completed reviews on all Nigeria investment laws in a bid to sustain the considerable progress recorded in 2013.
"As I speak to you I am delighted to say that we have a competition and consumer protection Bill going to the national assembly and we have the competition policy that I have asked to be finalised and the
draft copy made ready. It may come into effect very early 2014," he said.
He said a new insolvency Bill would also be going to the national assembly and assured stakeholders that all other issues that were raised by the OECD findings would be addressed.
One Local Government, One Product
Also many jobs are expected to spring up from the One Local Government One Product which is expected to kick off in the New Year.
This he said is in line with determination to reposition the Small and Medium Enterprises sector of the economy through the National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP) which according to him would generate an estimated 5million jobs in the next two years.
Based on these commitment the 2014 budget proposal for the ministry has shown that the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) got N1.24billion in terms of capital allocation ahead of other agencies under the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment
He said that the Federal Government would initiate investments to achieve results in its One Local Government, One Product Programme (OLOP) initiative in 2014.
The minister said that the initiative was also intended to stimulate grassroots participation in the country's trade and investment activities.
Aganga said NEDEP would be implemented under three pillars, technical/vocational skills acquisition, business development services (BDS) Entrepreneur training and access to finance and is designed to
put the SMEs sector on the right footing.
NEDEP is anchored under the One Local Government One Product (OLOP) programme, which the government said is tailored towards revitalizing the rural economy and alleviating poverty in rural areas in Nigeria and would be done through the establishment of sustainable MSMES in the 774 Local Government Areas (LGA's) based on comparative and competitive advantages.
Implementation of Automotive policy
The new national automotive policy announced last year is expected to take effect this year, stakeholders in the sector are warming up to grasp investments opportunities and challenges that would follow.
Under the policy, duties on both new and used cars were upwardly reviewed to 70 per cent (35 per cent levy and 35 per cent duty), from the previous 20 per cent flat rate. Duty for fully built buses meant
for commercial purposes will now be 35 per cent instead of the previous 10 per cent duty.
Aganga had informed that the implementation of the policy will create quality employment and a wide range of technologically advanced manufacturing opportunities in the new year.
The Director General of National Automotive Council, Engr. Aminu Jalal said Nigerians spent more than N 550 billion to import vehicles every year would now be able a million of vehicle every year.