FG, Singapore Sign Investment Pact

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The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah has signed a landmark investment guarantee pact, on behalf of the federal government with the government of Singapore in Abuja.

It also emerged yesterday that the total banking sector credit to the private sector rose to N16.18 billion in the third quarter (Q3) of the year compared to N15.53 billion in Q2 and N13.08 billion in Q1

The Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA), which was endorsed by the Singaporean Minister of Trade and Industry Shabir Iswara essentially aims to among other things, ensure fair and equitable treatment for investors; compensation for losses arising from strife and expropriation; and settlement of investment disputes under internationally accepted rules.

Although trade relations currently exist between both countries, especially in commodities like soya beans, sesame seeds, groundnuts, cashew nuts, cocoa and some precious stones, the governments stressed the need to expand and strengthen their ties.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Enelamah said: “We have come to the conclusion that we need to do more than the selling of our commodities in their raw state. We need to go into value addition before exporting. This we believe will lead to job creation and better value for our exports, as well as improve our economy.

“To achieve this, steps have to be taken to attract investment into Nigeria and to ensure that the investments are protected. The signing of the Nigeria – Singapore IPPA today, therefore, I hope will give you additional assurance that when you invest in Nigeria, your investments will be adequately protected.

“The government of President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to ensuring security and good governance in Nigeria as part of the ingredients for economic growth and stability.”

A functional Bilateral Agreement between Nigeria and Singapore-  – the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) for Cargo Services, which commenced in 2012 exists between both parties.

The minister, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Strategic Communication, Ms. Constance Ikokwu said once ratified and put into effect, the IPPA will serve to build a better and more sustainable business and investment relationship between the two countries.

“As part of plans to diversify government’s sources of revenue, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment is taking a number of measures including the implementation of the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan; improving our business climate to make it easy to do business in the country; building infrastructure; promoting micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) for inclusive growth and trade facilitation for exports among others,” the statement said.

Already, President Muhammadu Buhari has set up the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), of which the Vice-President Prof. Yemi Osibajo is the Chairman and Dr. Enelamah Vice-chairman.

PEBEC is charged with the responsibility of reducing the cost of doing business in Nigeria, and removing the impediments that are affecting the smooth operation of business.

Some of the constraints identified and currently being resolved include entry and exit processes; lowering the cost of business registrations and reducing the time and simplifying the procedures for registration.

Others are enhancing and expanding trade across borders; reviewing and simplifying land and property registration procedures; simplifying and facilitating access to capital; facilitating the transparency and digitalisation of operations of government agencies.

Of the total intervention, the oil and gas sector accounted for 22.53 per cent or N3.64 billion share in Q3 from 21.66 per cent or N3.36 billion in the previous quarter.

The manufacturing sector represented the second largest beneficiary of banks’ real sector financing with 13.16 per cent or N2.13 billion in the period under review, compared to N20.05 billion in Q2.

According to the Nigerian Private Sector Banking Credit by Sector, Q1 2015-Q3 2016, released yesterday by the statistical agency, the total Q3 figure was higher than the N13.01 billion recording in the corresponding quarter of last year.

It further showed the extent to which the banks had headed to appeals to improve lending to the real sector which is seen as critical to economic rejuvenation.

Total lending to agriculture was 3.04 percent or N491.28 million in Q3 compared to N480.63 million the previous quarter.

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Hamilton Nwosa

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