CEOs, Stakeholders Point Ways Out of Economic Doldrums

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Some stakeholders in the Nigerian economy wednesday spoke on ways the federal government can take the economy out of the current doldrums. The stakeholders, who spoke at the second Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE)-Bloomberg CEOs Roundtable, at the stock exchange in Lagos, included operators from the financial services, manufacturing and telecommunications sectors.

For instance, the Managing Director of Nestle Nigeria Plc, Mr. Dharnesh Gordhon, who noted that the middle class is disappearing, urged the government to tackle the foreign exchange crisis, improve infrastructure, saying the problem of inadequate power supply had worsened due to unavailability of gas, forcing companies to resort to more expensive alternatives.

The Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Segun Ogunsanya said government should have a visionary approach to the development of the economy. He said the government should digitise the economy, noting that would enhance the diversification programme and have rippling positive effects on the other sectors of the economy.
In the opinion of Executive Director of Chapel Hill Denham, Mr. Ayo Fashina, rather embarking on external borrowing, the government should sell some its assets to raise money to finance the budget deficit.
He said considering the devalued naira, borrowing $1billion from the international capital market would come with many challenges that would continue to affect the economy.

An economist and policy analyst, Dr. Ogho Okiti, said the government has just begun to bring out policies that would address the challenges, advising a more private sector collaboration and consultation. He declared that “Money doesn’t grow the economy, policies do.”

He also called for a major programme that would find a lasting solution to the banking crisis, saying the country has not exited the problem of 2009 that led to the creation of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
According to him, non-performing loans (NPLs), continue to increase, saying “I hope we do not repeat the same mistake of 2009. We have seen the symptoms and we don’t know how deep it will be. I am not saying the CBN is not going to bail out banks, but banks NPLs continue to increase. There must be a long term solution so that we do not repeat the mistake of the past.