Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Thursday lamented the lack of political will by the Federal Government to reform the oil and gas sector, which, it said, remains a major shortcoming of the economy over the past 15 years.
LCCI President, Remi Bello, also noted that corrupt practices in the oil and gas industry had impacted investment risk and worsened the nation’s perception at the global level.
The nation’s economy, he admitted, however, “has benefited from 15 years of uninterrupted democracy, as investors are better disposed towards a democratic environment, but the quality of the business environment continues to be a source of concern to investors, especially in the real sector as weak infrastructures and institutions have adverse effects on efficiency, productivity and competiveness of enterprises in the economy.
“These conditions pose a major risk to inclusiveness and job creation”, he stressed.
Bello noted Nigeria’s rebased GDP, which now ranks the country as the 26th largest economy in the world in 2013, and that the same economy was ranked 147 in its latest Ease of Doing Business report of the World Bank out of the 189 countries profiled.
He, however, noted that “the country’s ranking in the UNDP Human Development Index is 153, out of 210 countries is worrisome to investors, as this ranking is a graphic illustration of the disconnect between the growth and development; and between growth and quality of investment climate.
“These are critical gaps that we need to fix urgently for economic growth to be inclusive and impactful.”
According to the LCCI boss, who urged the political class to be more assertive, “access to markets in the troubled parts of Nigeria has made most of the enterprises suffer negative growth for a couple of years as a result of security challenges that have reduced sales and profitability for many enterprises”.
Bello, who noted that Nigeria’s economic growth trend, measured by the performance of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), has been generally positive over the past 15 years, averaging about six per cent seems good, compared to growth conditions in most economies around the world.
He stressed that “but the trend remains a major worry that the economy is still structurally defective as it is too dependent on the oil and gas sector for revenue, creating serious vulnerability risks”.