The plan of the Nigerian government to raise a $25 billion Infrastructural Fund from the global community and establish long term bankable projects is gaining traction, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says.
At a meeting with a delegation of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday, the Vice President said: “We have seen considerable, favourable interests from some Sovereign Wealth Funds and other nations”.
Explaining the idea of the Fund to the delegation, Professor Osinbajo said that the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, which manages the country’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, was leading the project.
He stated that the Infrastructural Fund would create opportunity for commercial partners to participate in the building of the nation’s infrastructures alongside the Federal Government.
This would be done through the establishment of bankable projects that involves such commercial partners.
One of the partners, the China-Exim Bank has agreed to finance the railway projects linking Lagos to Kano and Lagos to Calabar.
“We expect these will generate some economic activities and create jobs,” he stressed.
“No Easy Choices”
The Vice President also reiterated the Federal Government’s determination to raise revenue internally to fund the budget, including an expansion of VAT coverage but not an increase of the VAT rate.
“At 20% coverage the VAT coverage now, the Federal Government intends to do much better giving a boost to the country’s tax revenues,” he said.
A statement by the Vice President spokesman, Laolu Akande, said that the delegation of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry was led by Mrs Nike Akande who declared the support of the Chamber for the Federal Government’s fight against corruption and acknowledged that in the current economic situation that the Buhari presidency was having to deal with “there are no easy choices”.
Mrs Akande, a former federal Minister for Industry, called on the Central Bank of Nigeria to find a foreign exchange regime that would boost the confidence of investors and remove uncertainty.
The Vice President told the delegation that the Federal Government was focussed on finding solutions to the economic situation, through a focus on building infrastructure and also diversifying the economy, especially through agriculture.
He said that the government was also focussing on creating an enabling environment for business and investments in Nigeria to thrive.
Emphasis On Power
Professor Osinbajo also received a delegation from the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON).
He praised the telecom operators, stating that “there is no question at all about the importance and contribution of the sector especially since the 2001 privatisation”.
The Vice President pointed out that the telecom sector was one of the sectors in the economy that had created a significant impact.
He reiterated the Federal Government’s resolve to develop critical infrastructure in Nigeria, especially in the power sector which was an area of concern expressed by the operators at the meeting.
“The 2016 budget has a lot of emphasis on power, infrastructure, and we are hoping to make considerable progress, with fairly consistent spending on infrastructure over the years, we’ll fare better,” he told ALTON members.
Earlier, the Chairman of the association, Mr Gbenga Adebayo, presented an industry report to the Vice President entitled “the Socio-Economic Impact of Telecoms in Nigeria.”
Adebayo also expressed concern of the telecom operators on ‘multiple taxes’ and some of their equipment destroyed by insurgents in the Northeast.
He told the Vice President that the industry had recorded over 120 million subscribers since 2001.
Responding to the concern raised about taxation, the Vice President encouraged the telecom operators to be diligent in the payment of taxes and avoid delinquency, while suggesting that judicial or legislative options be considered in the resolution of what the operators described as ‘multiple taxation’.
While observing the important role of the telecom industry and acknowledging its contributions to the economy, the Vice President sought the cooperation of the telecom companies in national security issues.