Sanwo-Olu pledges to prioritise MSME development
Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, says his administration will continue to prioritise the growth and development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) to further boost the economy of the state.
Sanwo-Olu made the pledge at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) 2022 Lagos International Trade Fair (LITF) with the theme: “Connecting Businesses, Creating Value,” on Friday in Lagos.
He described the MSMEs as the heartbeat of any economy, saying that their development was critical, particularly in the face of the current harsh global uncertainties posed by COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine–Russian war.
“There is no gainsaying that most of the businesses that will be participating in this fair are MSMEs, which are the bed rock of sustainable development in most global economies.
“In Nigeria, this sector is the heart beat of our industrial and economic development and in Lagos State, MSMEs have significantly contributed to employment creation, value addition, income generation and appreciable poverty reduction,” he said.
He added that MSMEs were crucial to the state’s economic growth and stability, and its quest to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly in the promotion of creativity and decent work for all.
“As a government, our administration’s priority is the business sector, with particular focus on MSMEs.
“With a population of over 22 million, Lagos is the 5th fastest growing city in the world, which is why it is an investors’ delight.
“Therefore, it is imperative to formulate and implement policies, programmes and projects that would propel the state to a globally competitive economy,” Sanwo-Olu said.
He assured that his government would continue to create policies that would deliberately engender ease of doing business to enable the state attract investments and allow businesses to thrive.
According to him, the state will not rest on its oars, until businesses are properly positioned and Lagos becomes the biggest economy.
He also encouraged public-private partnership to drive development in infrastructure, health, education and others.
“This is to utilise the resources trapped in private sector.
“We would continue to ensure ease of doing business deliberately to help investors with planning and risk taking to further increase job opportunities.
“As a government, we would continue to look at what we can do to engage our youths, and we are creating a platform for new start-up innovation for our creative minds.
“We are creating an ecosystem and providing grants to help start ups and MSME through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund(LSETF).
“All of these interventions and funding are available and we implore MSMEs to take advantage of them to address brain drain,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu added that the state government was tackling issues around climite change and stressed the need for innovation to address the development.
Ide John Udeagbala, National President, Nigerian Association of Chamber’s of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), lauded the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) plan to redesign and reprint the nation’s currency.
According to him, the step should have been taken five years ago to control currency circulation, improve currency security and enhance adoption of cashless economy.
He, however, stated that the country’s move to borrow to fund part of the 2023 budget was worrisome given its current debt profile.
He said equally of concern were the parameters of assumptions in the 2023 budget estimates, especially the dollar to naira conversion rate put at 435.57 to the dollar.
According to him, most businesses in the country thrive on the parallel foreign exchange market rates with no measurable checks in sight by the monetary authorities.
“Consequently, most manufacturers will continue to purchase dollars at the parallel market in the coming year.
“It is, therefore, evident that the 2023 budget is not a true reflection of the economic reality of today’s Nigeria,” he said.
Udeagbala, noting the possibility of Nigeria hosting the 2025 Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF), charged government to buy into the possibility by providing the infrastructure which includes security and foreign exchange availability for the fair.
“Some economic benefits include foreign exchange earnings, infrastructural development and reviving of dying SMEs.
“IATF is a vehicle being used to promote trade and exhibition.
“However, for Nigeria to benefit from this, we must take care of our socio -economic challenges such as infrastructure deficits, forex challenges and the likes.
“It is the hope of NACCIMA and organised private sectors in general that government will chart its course towards addressing these challenges in line with our numerous suggestions outlined and place our economy on prosperous path,” he said.