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

Moses Umoru Appointed As The Director General Of The Franco-Nigerian Chamber Of Commerce And Industry

AudioAge – Lagos, Nigeria – 01 February 2018 – Mr. Umoru Moses was on Monday 29th of January, 2018 appointed as the Director General of the Franco-Nigerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI France-Nigeria) by the Board of the Chamber.

Umoru joined the France-Nigeria Chamber in January 2016 as the Programs/Communications director and due to his outstanding service, appointed as the Interim Director General in September 2016.

He worked as a research analyst for Forthright Securities and Investment Limited (Member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange) in 2013 and moved to the Corporate Affairs department as the assistant head of Forthright Group of Companies. Upon working as staff of Forthright, Mr. Umoru bagged the best staff award for the year 2013 and 2014.

Umoru has a Bsc on Finance from the University of Benin, Masters in Project management, currently running his MBA from the Ahmadu Bello University, Holds several professional certifications in Finance, Strategic Management, and Communications and a member of various professional bodies.

SOURCE
CCI France-Nigeria

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

Aliko Dangote Foundation joins global leaders to fight malnutrition – pledges US$100 million for Nigeria

The Global Nutrition Report 2017 launched at the Summit, showed that despite progress, 155 million children globally are stunted and the world is off track on meeting internationally agreed nutrition targets

AudioAge – Lagos, Nigeria – 13 November 2017 – What problem can be found in every country in the world and affects one in three people globally? What problem is so rife that the World Health Organization (WHO) terms it “the new normal.”? The surprising answer is malnutrition. It is not an issue that grabs many headlines or attracts much funding, yet malnutrition in its various forms, from hunger and wasting to obesity, has become the number one driver of global disease and the underlying cause of nearly half of all global child deaths.

Global Summit Global Action

The leading platform in the fight against malnutrition is the Global Nutrition Summit, the first global forum of the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016-2026). The recently concluded Global Nutrition Summit 2017 gathered an impressive array of governments, international agencies, foundations, civil society organizations and businesses to Milan, Italy. It was convened with the objective of taking stock of nutrition commitments made to date, celebrating progress toward global goals on nutrition, and announcing additional commitments to accelerate the global response to malnutrition in all its forms.

The Global Nutrition Summit drew a strong African contingent including world leaders Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations and Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation and Graca Machel, Founder of the Graca Machel Trust; high-level representatives of the governments of Tanzania, Niger, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Zambia and business leaders such as Aliko Dangote, Founder of the Aliko Dangote Foundation (www.Dangote.com) and Chairman of the Dangote Group, Africa’s largest home-grown conglomerate. They joined international stakeholders including the U.K.’s Department for International Development (DFID), the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the International Coalition on Advocacy for Nutrition.

An Unprecedented Pledge

The Global Summit highlighted the cost of malnutrition to both societies and individuals. The Global Nutrition Report 2017 launched at the Summit, showed that despite progress, 155 million children globally are stunted and the world is off track on meeting internationally agreed nutrition targets. Compounding the issue, global financing to tackle malnutrition has been alarmingly low. Donors spend only about 0.5 percent of overseas aid on nutrition, and countries allocate between one and two percent of their health budgets to the issue.

Fortunately, funding was an area in which the Global Summit did record some landmark successes. The major highlight of the Summit was the unprecedented pledge by the Aliko Dangote Foundation to invest US$100 Million over five years to tackle malnutrition in the worst-affected parts of Nigeria.

“Nigeria’s high malnutrition rate is undermining progress towards improving child health and survival and putting the brakes on economic development,” said Zouera Youssoufou, Managing Director and CEO of the Aliko Dangote Foundation. “By investing in nutrition, we aim to directly improve the lives of Nigerian families and to empower our citizens to reach their full potential.”

African governments also announced new commitments: Ethiopia, through its National Nutrition Program, pledged to reduce the prevalence of stunted; underweight and wasted children under five. Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Zambia, also made commitments to expand domestic programmes to improve nutrition for mothers and children. In total, the Summit succeeded in galvanizing US3.4 billion according to the organisers.

“The global malnutrition crisis endangers the physical and mental wellbeing of present and future generations” said Kofi Annan, speaking at the summit in his capacity as Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation. “Progress in tackling both under nutrition and obesity is possible with targeted commitments, like those made here today. We need further urgent investments so that people, communities and nations can reach their full potential.”

Why Africa and Nigeria Must Act

The response from African leaders at the Global Summit was both heartening and critical. African children and women in particular are the front-line casualties in the global battle against malnutrition. GDP losses from malnutrition average 11 percent in Africa according to the World Bank and improved nutrition is a prerequisite for achieving other development targets.

Unfortunately, Nigeria boasts not only Africa’s largest population but also the continent’s highest numbers of malnourished children. Almost half of the one million children who die before the age of five in Nigeria, die of malnutrition as the underlying cause. Without proper nutrients during the first 1,000 days of life starting from conception up to their second birthday, children are less likely to survive childhood diseases such as malaria and pneumonia, and are less likely to escape poverty as adults. They become physically and cognitively stunted, a fate that has befallen 11 million of Nigeria’s children under five.

Looking Forward With Hope

The Aliko Dangote Foundation is on a mission to reduce the prevalence of under nutrition by 60 percent in the neediest areas of Nigeria, specifically the North East and North West, where malnutrition has affected millions of lives and crippled the local economy. With this US$100 Million commitment, the Aliko Dangote Foundation will promote scalable and cost-effective nutrition interventions such as breast feeding, healthy sanitation practices, disease prevention, food fortification and supplementation. These activities complement other long-term programs on education, empowerment, food security, water, sanitation and health care. “We recognize nutrition as a cross-cutting issue which affects other critical development goals, that is why nutrition has become our core focus. We want to reach one million malnourished children in Nigeria by 2021 and we know that for every dollar invested in nutrition, the nation as a whole will reap huge economic dividends,” said Aliko Dangote.

The good news is that malnutrition is beatable. It is not a natural disaster that one cannot predict or a communicable disease for which there is no cure. But the fight does demand leadership – zero tolerance on malnutrition from policymakers, more integrated interventions from the public and private sectors and decisive actions backed by greater investments. Through his Foundation, Aliko Dangote looks set to become the strongest voice for nutritional leadership nationally and on the continent of Africa.

SOURCE
Aliko Dangote Foundation

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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)