LCCI Holds Annual Security Meets Business Dialogue

AudioAge – Lagos, Nigeria – 02 February 2018 – The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), the premier Chamber of Commerce and one of the leading voices in the organised private sector (OPS) in Nigeria has concluded plans to host its annual Security Meets Business Dialogue. As part of its public-sector engagement programs, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry initiated the “Security meets Business” dialogue session to create a platform for stakeholders in the economy to deliberate on the state of security in the country and its effect on the private sector.

The dialogue, which is billed to hold on Tuesday 6th February 2018 by 10:00 am at Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, is expected to bring together key Security Agencies and major players in the various sectors of the economy, especially the organised private sector. The dialogue session would also explore collaboration possibilities between the Private Sector and the Security Agencies. The Forum will bring together Security Chiefs, leaders of the private sector, as well as members of the diplomatic corps to deliberate on issues of security and its effects on business.

According to Muda Yusuf, Director General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) “The security of lives and properties is crucial to a thriving business environment. The LCCI believes that through these engagements, the government and private sector can identify and address issues bothering on the security of lives and properties.’’

He added that “the way out of the present security and prevailing social crises for Nigeria is collaborative engagements such as this because there can’t be real economic growth without enduring peace, stability and security of lives and property.”

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About LCCI

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the premier chamber of commerce in Nigeria. Founded in 1888 and incorporated in 1950 as a non-profit making organisation, the LCCI promotes, supports or opposes legislative or other measures affecting trade, Industry, commerce, and agriculture. The LCCI has over 1,500 registered members and is well known for its annual “Lagos International Trade Fair” which was launched in 1977.

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Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI)

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For more information, visit: www.lagoschamber.com

LCCI’s Comments on NGO Bill

AudioAge – Lagos, Nigeria – 20 December 2017 – The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry [LCCI] is worried over the draft NGO Bill presently under consideration in the National Assembly. It a bill for an act to provide for the establishment of a Non-Governmental Organizations Regulatory Commission for the supervision, coordination, and monitoring of non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations and for related matters in Nigeria.  This proposition has far-reaching implications for the advocacy roles and responsibilities of private sector bodies in the country.

Some of the ominous provisions of the draft bill are that:

  • All non-governmental organisations, national, local international, town unions, associations (etc) in Nigeria must register with the Commission and be licensed for a renewable period of two years.
  • All NGOs annual workplan and budgets must be approved by the Commission before implementation.
  • Assets including motor vehicles used to build the capacity of an NGO must be done through the Commission. All organizational vehicles must be branded even in crises prone areas.
  • The Minister can direct the Commission to sanction, punish or withdraw the license of any of the NGO.
  • Once any organization does anything against government interest or position, such organisations’ license will be withdrawn.

The LCCI, which was founded in 1888 [some 129 years ago] has been a leading player in the economic and business policy advocacy space.   The Chamber had made valuable inputs into policy conception and formulation processes since the colonial times.

Advocacy is a critical component of a virile democracy.  The NGOs and civil society organizations are a stabilizing force in the Nigerian polity.  They are platforms through which the citizens freely express themselves to promote the cause of inclusion and participation in the democratic process.  Many economic, social and political policies have been shaped inputs from NGOs and civil society organizations.  The NGO Regulatory Bill is clearly not consistent with democratic ideals and  values.

Many important and critical policy reforms were the result of very active advocacy by the private sector bodies.  We have seen reforms at sectoral and macroeconomic levels which were outcomes of the unrelenting voice of the Nigerian private sector organizations.  Such reforms have not only benefited the economy but have impacted the citizens positively.  Some of these reforms initiatives are evident in the Telecommunications sector, infrastructure development, interest rate policy and incentives for critical sectors of the economy; the foreign exchange policy; trade policy to advance the interests of domestic investors and many more.  The NGO bill [in its present form] will, without doubt, stifle and repress advocacy initiatives of the private sector organizations.

Besides, the Nigerian Civil Society organizations and NGOs have made incredible sacrifices through rigorous advocacy to promote the ideals of transparency, democratic governance, social and political reforms.  The outcomes of these advocacy activities have been largely beneficial to the Nigerian state, and even the political class.  They led the way to keep the military at bay in political governance and enthroned democracy.  They were a critical part of the struggle that put an end to military incursion into political governance.

We, therefore, request the National Assembly to discontinue the consideration of the bill in the interest of Nigerian democracy, transparency, accountability, inclusiveness, and equity in governance.  Already there are adequate regulatory and institutional frameworks to make the NGOs and civil Society Organizations accountable and operate within the limits of the law.  There is the Companies and Allied Matters Act as well as the Money Laundering Act, which have robust provisions to ensure that the NGOs conduct their affairs in a manner consistent with the Nigerian laws.  Besides, donor agencies have strict accountability and transparency systems and processes that guide the utilization of donor funds by beneficiaries.  What needs to be done is to strengthen existing regulatory and institutional frameworks for the oversight of the NGOs and Civil society organizations if there are genuine worries over the activities of some of them.

Muda Yusuf
Director General
Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry

SOURCE
Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry

LCCI Comments on the 2018 Budget

AudioAge – Lagos, Nigeria –  09 November 2017 – The Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) welcomes the presentation of the 2018 Budget by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, to the National Assembly on Tuesday, 7th November 2017. We appreciate the commitment of the Government to the restoration of January-December budget cycle. This will be good for planning purposes, both in the public and private sectors of the economy. It would enhance predictability and confidence of investors in the economic management process.  The budgetary cycles of the many corporate organisations, the state governments and that of the federal government would also be better aligned.

We note that the budget is N8.6trillion for 2018 which represents an increase, in nominal terms, of 16% over the 2017 of N7.44trillion. However, in real terms (discounting for inflation) there is no significant difference in the budget size. The following key budget numbers are noted as well:

  • The budget deficit of N2.005trillion, 50% of which will be funded from foreign debt.
  • The debt service of N2.014trillion.
  • The recurrent expenditure of N3.49trillion.
  • Capital expenditure of N2.428 trillion.

The debt service provision of N2.014 trillion is 82.6% of total capital allocation and 30% of total revenue. This is clearly on the high side and not sustainable. The LCCI appreciates the efforts of Government to rebalance debt portfolio in the light of increasing burden of debt service on Government finances and the crowding out effect of government borrowing on the private sector.

Meanwhile, the outlook of the macro-economic fundamentals is positive with external reserves at $34billion as at October; declining inflation and stability of the exchange rate. We welcome the proposal by Government to consolidate on this positive outlook.

Budget assumptions

We note the following assumptions that underline the budget

  • Oil price benchmark of $45 per barrel
  • Oil production of 2.3million barrels per day.
  • Exchange rate of N305 to the dollar
  • GDP growth of 3.5%
  • Inflation rate of 12.4%

The above assumptions appear sustainable and realistic except for the exchange rate assumption of N305 to the dollar. For all practical purposes, the exchange rate in the economy is between N350-365 to the dollar.

Budgetary Appropriation

We appreciate the fact that 30.8% of the budget will be allocated to capital projects. The emphasis on infrastructure spending is also being sustained. However, due consideration needs to be given to the following:

  • Need to further reduce cost of governance
  • Need to scale up remittances of surplus from MDAs to the coffers of Government
  • Need to refocus the tax drive from direct to indirect taxes in line with the National Tax Policy. A disproportionate focus on direct taxation is detrimental to investment and hard work.
  • Need to curb the growing incidence of multiplicity of taxes and levies on businesses at all levels of government.

Infrastructure Spending

We welcome the priority accorded to infrastructure in the budget proposal focussing on roads, railways, power projects, water projects and second Niger bridge. Reference was made to the embarrassing state of the access to the ports and the public private initiative to fix it.  We welcome the decision to connect the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge to the Apapa and the Tin-Can Island port. But time is of the essence.  There is an urgent need to save the Private Sector and investors from the agony of persistent gridlock at the Apapa and Tin-Can ports, which accounts for over 70% of import and export cargo in the country.

The LCCI notes the assurance of President Buhari to the redemption of the promises made to the oil producing areas of the Niger Delta. We commend the renewed commitment to accelerate the ease of doing business reforms.  These and more will facilitate the progress and stability of the economy.

the government acknowledged the need for the private sector to complement the efforts , especially in the provision of infrastructure.  There is need for more aggressive drive in this respect.  It is imperative to put in place policies to mobilise private sector capital into the infrastructure space.  This should include the broad spectrum of policies – tax policy, monetary policy, trade policy, and investment policy

Tailored Nigeria solution

Reference was made in the budget address to a tailored Nigerian solution to fix the economy.  While we recognise the need to design policies to fit the context of the Nigeria situation, economic management models that are not in consonance with tested economic management principles and practices should be avoided as far as possible.

Market models are ideal for a country like ours that is so richly endowed with an enterprising population. Of course, there will always be market failures which could be remedied through appropriate Government interventions. Policy choices that create rent opportunities and distortions should be avoided.  The principles of transparency, equity and level playing field should be observed at all times.  This is critical for the sustenance of investors confidence.

Issues for Clarifications

As the budget appropriation process progresses, clarifications on the following will be useful:

  • Status of the budgetary appropriation for petroleum subsidy both for the current fiscal year and 2018. It is also necessary to throw some light on the status of the estimated N800billion debt to oil marketers. Investors in this sector would like to see a sustainable framework for the management of petrol subsidy.
  • The status of the AMCON debt estimated at about N5trillion within the debt management framework of the Government
  • Framework for payment of contractor arears which cuts across various MDAs. The non-payment of the contractor arears has taken a huge toll on many contractors. Amount involved has been estimated at over one trillion naira.

Conclusion

The LCCI appeals to the National Assembly to ensure a speedy consideration of the appropriation bill in order to normalise the budgetary cycle and bring greater predictability to the economic management process.

Muda Yusuf
Director General
Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry
9th November 2017

SOURCE
Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI)

Investigative Activities of The National Assembly and Implications for The Private Sector and The Economy

AudioAge – Lagos, Nigeria – 13 August 2017 – The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry [LCCI] appreciates the constitutional role of the National Assembly in the promotion of good governance and the advancement of the principle of checks and balances in the polity. We note in particular the responsibility of oversight and investigations as prescribed under sections 88 and 89 of the Nigerian Constitution.  However, we request that these investigative powers be exercised with greater discretion to avoid distraction to private sector players, erosion of investors confidence and collateral damage to the economy.

The LCCI believes, and in fact promotes, the ideals of high ethical standards in the business and would not condone or support infractions against the statutory laws by private sector entities.  However, we would like to see a legislative – private sector interface characterized by mutual respect, fairness, and courtesy.  The LCCI accordingly submits as follows:

  • Allegations and petitions received by the national assembly about infractions by the private sector should be properly verified for credibility before presenting such to the media. The most recent of such public pronouncements was the alleged N30 trillion revenue loss, and missing 288 vessels by the Senate Joint Committee on Customs, Excise, Tariffs and Marine Transport.  63 firms were accused of complicity in the alleged scam. These are grave allegations that needed to be subjected to proper scrutiny before going public.  The implications for the nations image and foreign investors’ perception are severe.
  • The listing of the names of corporate organizations in the media over allegations that are not yet proven has considerable reputational cost and collateral damage to such companies. It has weighty consequences for the brand equity of such organizations.
  • The frequency of summons of corporate organizations by the National Assembly [most of which are in Lagos and other locations outside Abuja] has significant financial implications for such organizations – cost of flight, the cost of hotels and other logistics for appearing before the national assembly.
  • The Executive Time committed to appearance before committees of the national assembly is enormous. This is even more so when most of the Committees would insist that appearance should be at the level of the CEOs of the companies.
  • There is a need for the summons to be focused on specific infractions rather than generic charges of infractions.
  • Statutory agencies of government are most often the custodians of some of the information that the private sector is often required to provide to support legislative investigations. It is more cost effective to access these information from these agencies of government.
  • The notice for appearance are often very short. This has serious disruptive effects on the operations of private sector players in the economy.
  • Where the information demanded are many, we request that ample time be given for such to be gathered. For instance, the current investigative hearing of the Senate Committee on Customs, Excise, Tariffs and Marine Transport covers 10years – 20016 to 2017, covering all export and import transactions of companies over the period.  This naturally requires ample time to put together and present.
  • There is a need to streamline the summons and public hearings to avoid duplications and overlap between the Senate and House of Reps. It is also imperative for the leadership of the national assemble to vet the summons by its committees to ensure efficiency, cost effectiveness and optimization of executive time committed to the public hearings.  This is important when we realize that we have 89 Standing Committees in the House of Representatives and 59 Standing Committees in the Senate.
  • Matters that can be investigated by the statutory agencies of government such as the Judiciary, the EFCC, the ICPC, the FIRS, the National Industrial Court, the Nigeria Customs Service should be referred to such institutions. These bodies have better competences, capacities, and structures for investigation of infringements of the law. This would enable the National Assembly to focus on its core duties of representation and law making.

The LCCI appreciates the role of the senate in ensuring the enactment of enabling laws and review of obsolete legislations to create an enabling environment for investors. We note in particular the senate initiatives under the aegis National Assembly Business Roundtable [NASSBER].  Other organs of the national assembly should take a cue from this laudable initiative.

At a time like these, the economy needs investors to boost job creation and accelerate the economic recovery process.  The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan [ERGP] deliverables are anchored largely on the private sector.  The national assembly should align with this by reducing avoidable distractions to investors in the economy.

SOURCE
Muda Yusuf
Director General
Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry

MEDIA CONTACT

LCCI Partners CMC Connect to Celebrate Business Excellence at the 2017 Commerce and Industry Awards

AudioAge – Lagos, Nigeria – 16 May 2017 – Business excellence will take center stage in Lagos as the nation’s foremost Chamber of Commerce; the Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) celebrates business excellence at the 2017 Commerce & Industry Awards.

The event pitched as the most coveted Business Awards in the country, is scheduled to hold on Saturday, July 1, 2017, at Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos with the theme ‘Lagos @ 50: Celebrating the Heartbeat of Commerce in Sub-Saharan Africa’.

This year’s edition will be unique, with the introduction of an Award Icon, the ‘Manilla’- which was originally used as an ornament but later adopted as local trade currency in the 16th century as means of exchange in Lagos and other coastal areas in West Africa.

The LCCI Commerce & Industry Awards is organized annually to recognize, celebrate and promote private and public institutions who have exhibited the core values of best business practices, growth through innovation, business sustainability and have impacted positively on the society.

As Lagos State clocks 50 this year, the Commerce and Industry Award represents an appropriate platform for celebrating the achievements of outstanding corporate organizations and personalities who have kept the spirit of commerce and industry alive, not only in the state but far and wide.

President of LCCI, Chief Dr. Mrs. Nike Akande, CON said “As part of its core mandate of trade promotion and business/policy advocacy, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry annually recognizes deserving corporate organizations and public institutions who contribute meaningfully to the development of commerce and industry in different sectors of the Nigerian economy.

She noted that the Commerce & Industry Awards is known for its high level of transparency, objectivity and painstaking selection process of several entries backed by feedback from robust research and market intelligence.

Group Managing Director of CMC Connect-Burson-Marsteller, Mr. Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, said the Commerce & Industry Award has grown to become a reputable platform that constantly expands the frontier of business excellence in Lagos. He said CMC Connect, as a leading provider of innovative communication solutions and strategies to businesses in Nigeria, is pleased to partner with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry to promote growth and excellence across the various sectors of the economy while inspiring emerging businesses, entrepreneurs, and sustainability of indigenous enterprises.

According to the organizers of the Commerce and Industry Awards, nominations can be made by members of the LCCI Sectoral Groups, Regulators and other Industry Stakeholders and the award selection process is highly credible.

Founded in 1888, LCCI has emerged as the leading voice of the private sector through its sustained public policy advocacy, stakeholders’ engagement and trade promotion activities towards creating a conducive investment climate and prosperous economy.

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SOURCE
Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI)