•Says Lagos needs N7tn to meet infrastructure challenges
•LASG seeks collaboration with private sector
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Friday assured the business community that his administration will not allow disruption of businesses in the State.
Governor Sanwo-Olu gave the assurance during the 2023 Lagos Corporate Assembly, a business forum tagged “BOS meets with Business Community” at the Banquet Hall, Lagos House, Ikeja on Friday.
Speaking during the meeting attended by Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; members of the State Executive Council, heads of agencies, Captains of Industries and entrepreneurs, Governor Sanwo-Olu urged government agencies to interface with corporate organisations and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) with a human face.
Governor Sanwo-Olu, who promised prompt attention to issues during the meeting, reassured the business community that his administration is committed to ease of doing business and a conducive environment for businesses to thrive in Lagos State.
He said: “We have had a very extensive collaborative conversation and there was no disagreement. Everybody brought issues forward and I think at the end of the day, we were able to see solutions being espoused. We were able to make resolutions on how we need to rejig ourselves going forward.
“Mr. President has given a tall order. He wants an economy that can get to 1 trillion by 2030. And for that to happen, Lagos must be in that conversation. It is the economic nerve center of our country and the businesses that will make that happen need to be on the same page with Mr. President’s. And that is the whole essence of our meeting with them.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu while speaking on his administration’s commitment to deliver good governance and dividends of democracy, disclosed during the meeting that Lagos State requires about N7 trillion budget size to meet up with infrastructural and basic amenities in 2024.
The Governor, however, noted that despite the uncertainty in the global business world, his administration cannot give excuses ‘but must work to achieve its set out goals as promised during the campaign period’.
He said “Reports gathered from Ministries, Departments and Agencies show that if we have the resources, at least N7 trillion will be needed for the year 2024 budget to meet the state’s infrastructural challenges and other basic amenities. This proves that our proposed N2 trillion budget for 2024 is far from it.
“That is one of the challenges we are having presently. We want to fix roads and do it rightly. We need to scale up with modern technology and put in place enduring policies. We didn’t anticipate the current inflationary rate, our focus is on how to meet the demands of our people amidst the speculative market.
“We are where we are today and if we don’t get it right, it will have dire consequences for our country. But we can’t give excuses, we need to work together. We are running against time. I have a political timeline am working with and we can’t afford to fail.
“We will need to work together and identify the way forward. We should be able to solve some of our challenges through your ideas and submissions. We must let the MSMEs breathe for a sustainable economy, through friendly policies.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu also assured the business community that he will invite officials of the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment and some federal agencies to the next Lagos Corporate Assembly, which is expected to be held in the first quarter of 2024.
He said the engagement will allow the business community in Lagos to interact with federal agencies for them to be on the same page on how to build the economy to a level that both the government and private sector are craving for.
“We also agreed after about three hours that we need to do a follow-up engagement again and we have agreed to do that in the first quarter of next year. More importantly, is to be able to bring Federal Government agencies that are critical to their businesses to come forward and take questions and give them solutions and answers that can make them make investment decisions and build this economy.
“So, at our next meeting, we will be expecting agencies that include the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Standard Association of Nigeria (SON). We need to have them at our next meeting.”
Speaking at the event, Lagos State Commissioner for Commerce, Cooperative, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Folashade Ambrose-Medebem, explained that the corporate assembly has been a very important public–private sector engagement platform, through which the government and the business community interact and discuss issues that are crucial to the state’s industrial and commercial growth.
She said: “As a responsive and responsible government, we recognise that ensuring ease of doing business is key to the state’s economic growth and development. This is why the administration, through the implementation of various reforms, prioritised the provision of a friendly environment that would support existing businesses while attracting more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
“To consolidate on what has been done, the government will continue to use platforms such as this Corporate Assembly to sustain the engagement and fire up the conversation that would ensure the state remains focused in its determination to move up the ladder on the global Ease of Doing Business index and progresses steadily towards inclusive growth that would benefit the investors and the residents.”
The commissioner also reassured stakeholders that ‘more than ever before, Lagos State, in the face of pervasive global economic challenges, is poised to supporting both the industrial and commercial sectors to maximise potentials towards making a greater contribution to the State’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Speaking earlier, the President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Michael Olawale-Cole, described Governor Sanwo-Olu as the most business-friendly Governor in Nigeria.
Olawale-Cole, who commended Governor Sanwo-Olu for his administration’s commitment to improving investments and businesses in Lagos State, charged the business community to support the government.
“We must all rise to support the Lagos State Government. Nothing must go wrong in Lagos because if anything goes wrong in Lagos, it will affect the country. Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry will continue to support Lagos State Government so that Lagos can be better under the right business environment,” he said.
Speaking during the meeting, some of the captains of industries and entrepreneurs, implored Governor Sanwo-Olu and the Lagos State Government to address the challenges of the business community in the State, which according to them are double taxation, government policies and infrastructure deficits, among others.
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