The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture, and the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NACCIMA) have called on the Federal Government to provide palliatives for operators in the country’s productive sectors.
They made the appeal in Abuja at the just concluded 3rd Quarterly Council Meeting of NACCIMA, hosted by the ACCI.
The President of NACCIMA, Dele Oye, said the extension of palliatives to some key sectors of the economy was critical because of the harsh impact of the fuel subsidy removal on businesses in the affected sectors.
The National Executive Council recently approved N5 billion to be given to each of the 36 states in Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory as part of plans to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal on the masses.
Commenting on this at the meeting, Oye said, “The various industries are all affected, either positively or negatively. This is because every new policy has its own casualties, as well as people benefiting from the operations.
“This is because in a liberalised system, people do not have the opportunity to get the official dollar rate or even to play on a level playing field, which increases competition.
“In the long term, it is good for the country, but in the short term, you have to find a way to take into consideration those who are wrongly affected so that the prices do not cause unusual inflation. Therefore, it is important that the government ensure that the palliatives also get to the industries.”
The NACCIMA president noted that it would take time for businesses to adjust to the floating of the naira, a recent policy introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“In the short term, it is always a bit difficult for a lot of people because it takes time to adjust. It takes time for businesses to get to know the new policy and to work with it. Also, it seems one of the reasons we are suffering is because we were supposed to make certain investments by buying fuel at the proper rate.
“We were enjoying the free rate, and what has happened is that our demand has gone far beyond our needs. So, what I am saying is that this burden has now been removed (from the government), and that is why I can see some level of excess cash coming into the coffers of the government.
“So, this can go into development, but there are people who are affected in the short term because it is bound to increase the cost of production,” Oye stated.
He noted that by providing loans at a single-digit interest rate, the government would be cushioning the effects of subsidy removal on industries affected in the short term.
Corroborating Oye’s position, the President of ACCI, Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, said the business community needed incentives to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal and the depreciation of the naira.