President Goodluck Jonathan has said that his administration is developing a new investment policy framework, designed to focus on strategies to remove bottlenecks in the business environment in order to make it more investor-friendly.
Mr. Jonathan, who was speaking on Thursday at the opening of the 12th meeting of the Honorary International Investor Council (HIIC) in Abuja, said the Federal Government has already enlisted the service of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for the development of the policy.
The president said the government has also constituted an After-Care committee to handle complaints from investors, adding that the new investment policy is one of the ways to make the country’s economy competitive and attractive to investors.
With the global economy still vulnerable, and Nigeria’s economic growth holding strong at 6.17 per cent for the first quarter of this year, the president said there is still the need to strengthen the country’s economic buffers to deal with a volatile global economic climate.
He listed some of the steps his administration has taken to strengthen Nigeria’s economy as building the Excess Crude Account and the foreign reserve, which now stands at $36billion and $5.8billion respectively; as well as the pending launch of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF).
“In recent years, the country has been rated very poorly in the reports by the Doing Business Segment of the World Bank Group,” the president said.
“The Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum and the World Investment Report of the United Nations Commission for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) have equally had poor ratings for Nigeria. What these challenging economic reports call for is concerted action by all stakeholders,” he added.
He said the transformation agenda of his administration is aimed at turning the country’s potentials into developmental realities, pointing out that, more than ever, there is an increased focus on diversification of the economy away from total dependence on oil and attraction of investments into critical sectors.
To improve the country’s competitive landscape, the president said the establishment of the Nigerian National Competitiveness Council has already been approved in line with the recommendation of the World Economic Forum to create awareness on national competitiveness in the country and coordinate the efforts of both the Public and Private Sectors to improve Nigeria’s competitiveness.
While the Council would also be responsible for recommending relevant policies as well as monitor and evaluate the progress being made at the national and sub-national levels, the president said a Competition, Anti-Trust and Consumer Protection Bill is being finalised by the National Council on Privatisation before being sent to the National Assembly for passage into law.
Other policies to make the country a more investor-friendly environment include the reform of the country’s visa policy; Ports and Customs reforms, with emphasis on both trade facilitation and revenue generation; improvement of the Customs efficiency, and fostering collaboration with relevant government agencies; introduction of the Single Window concept and review of legislations underlying operations of the Customs Service.
On security, the President said the government is building the capacity of the police and other related agencies to fight crime and defeat terrorism, adding that the recent overhaul of the country’s security team has brought a fresh approach towards resolving the crisis.