The Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment hosted its management and Chief Executive Officers of Parastatals to a 2-day retreat on “Addressing Unemployment and Poverty through the development of SMEs and Industrialisation” recently at Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone, Port-Harcourt.
In his keynote address titled,” Reinforcing the vision of the Ministry”, the Hon.Minister, Dr. Okechukwu Enelama, identified the immediate economic challenges facing the country which include: fall in Crude-Oil prices, currency devaluation, High poverty rates, Infrastructure gap and slowing GDP growth.
However, according to the Hon.Minister, the fundamentals of the Nigerian economy remain strong in the medium to long term. Like the physician that he is, Dr. Enelama, having diagnosed the ailments, prescribed a reinforcement of the vision of the ministry which according to him is that of service delivery through the following:
i)Creating an enabling environment
ii)Catalyst for industrialising Nigeria
iii)Facilitating the development of Infrastructure, both soft and hard
iv)Development of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises(SMEs)
v)Proactively promoting local and foreign direct investment
vi)Strengthening ties with strategic partners and international organisations to foster regional and international trade.
The Hon.Minister announced that the vision would rest on four pillars thus:
i)Creating an enabling environment
ii)Implementing the NIRP
iii)Championing MSMEs to create jobs and achieve inclusive growth
iv) Attract proactively long-term foreign investment.
Convinced that the present economic hardship can be converted to opportunity for growth, Dr. Okechukwu Enelama concluded that the ministry with its parastatals constitute a formidable team to catalyse the industrialization of Nigeria.
Echoing the optimism of the Hon.Minister, Dr. Ayo Teriba, a leading authority in Economics, in his presentation titled “Overview of the Nigerian Economy and Repositioning of FMITI for the country’s Economic Diversification”, submitted that in spite of the economic paradoxes manifested through fiscal, sectoral and financial/monetary disconnect, the country still remains the land with the greatest growth and investment prospect in Africa. He therefore counselled as follows: Plug all leakages to resolve the fiscal disconnect, fix the growth enablers to address the sectoral disconnect and puncture banks excess liquidity and ease monetary policy to deal with monetary disconnect.
The Hon.of State, Aisha Abubakar in her remarks emphasized the need to maximize the potentials that abound in the country to enhance the living standard of our people.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Aminu Aliyu Bisalla, explained that the retreat was organised in furtherance of the ministry’s responsibility to among other things, develop policies to support existing industries and facilitate the entry of new ones. According to him, also, the retreat was to serve as a forum to further evaluate the implementation strategies of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan(NIRP) amidst current challenges and opportunities.
Other speakers at the retreat include Mr Agboola Oloruntoba, President, CICAN, Dr Jumoke Oduwole, Special Assistant to the Vice-President, representatives of Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning and Bureau for Public Procurement. Chief Executive officers of the parastatals of the Ministry also led discussions in their areas of activities.
The retreat was supported by the United Nations Industrial Development organisation(UNIDO)