Home Business Infrastructure Deficit: DMO, Others Canvass Private Sector Intervention

Infrastructure Deficit: DMO, Others Canvass Private Sector Intervention

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NDIC's Director, Communication & Public Affairs, Mr Bashir Nuhu (Left) receiving Award of Special Recognition for Support to Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) and Financial Journalism in Nigeria on behalf of NDIC MD/CE from former MD, Bank of Industry, Dr. Waheed Olagunju while FICAN President, Chima Nwokoji watches in admiration today in Lagos.

Stakeholders in the finance industry have urged the private sector to support the Federal Government’s drive to finance the infrastructural deficit in the country.

They spoke at the annual conference/30th anniversary of the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) with the theme: ‘Financing Infrastructure & SMEs for inclusive growth in the post-COVID-19 economy’, held in Lagos at weekend.

In his contribution, the Chief Executive Officer of FMDQ Group, Bola Onadele noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has weakened government revenue to sustain infrastructures funding across the country.

The FMDQ boss, who was represented by Yomi Osinubi, Head, Private Market, suggested creative ways to bring the private sector into infrastructures in the country.

The Director-General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Ms Patience Oniha, asserted that government alone cannot address the country’s infrastructural needs, as the funds are not available.

“There must be creative ways of opening up the system to enable us to bring the private sector, where we can pool the capital to fund infrastructure.

“That has started with what we are doing with the road clean-up infrastructure with Dangote trying to take care of some roads. Some other private sector players will enjoy that tax incentive to encourage them to participate, bearing in mind that the government alone cannot do it.

“We are expecting you people to put together a proper communique that will advise the government on how to bring in the private sector properly to address our infrastructural gap, ” she said.

The DMO boss, however, noted that there is room for more borrowing to finance infrastructure, stressing that investors have a huge interest in the country’s infrastructure development.

Oniha who was represented by Joe Ugoala, Director, Operational/Research Department at the DMO, added: “ In the last edition that we just did where the country raised $4 billion, the idea was that we could raise a minimum of $3 billion and we found out that people still have an interest in our country. Even though we seemed to have doubts, the international investors still have faith.

“They still believe in the fundamentals of this economy. We were asking for $3 billion, we ended up having $12.2 billion, which was almost 400 per cent of what we actually asked for.

“We had to say this because of our approval from the National Assembly which is within the requirement of the Appropriation Act.

“So, what the country took from that outing was $4 billion out of the $12.2 billion. You can see that there is so much interest in Nigeria’s instrument across Asia, America, Europe and other parts of the world.

“Basically, we issued three instruments –  three tranches of 7-year instrument, 12-year instrument and 30-year instrument. What this means is that if private domestic investors go offshore to borrow, their instruments can be priced as of the sovereign.”

The former Acting Managing Director, Bank of Industry (BOI), Dr. Waheed Olagunju, called on the government and the private sector to boost the capacity of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector.

Olagunju said: “We need to build the capacity of our people; government and the organised private sector have a role to play.

“I believe that the government and private sector development partnership will help. We need to work on the eco system looking at what other countries have done: they invested in industrial park and technology as a short-term measure.

“A railway line for instance, can be located at the industrial park so that it will be close to where the infrastructures are available.”

He said the world is awash with investable funds in excess of $17 trillion, expressing that Nigeria is one of the best investment environments in the world.

“Investors are looking for where to invest and return-on-investment in Nigeria, prior to COVID-19, was one of the highest in the world.

“According to UN statistics, Nigeria was ranked between 21 and 35 percent on return-on-Investment, Nigeria has the highest foreign direct investment in Africa. The world wants to do business with Nigeria,” he said.

On her part, the Managing Director/CEO, Fidelity Bank Plc, Mrs Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, who was represented by Osaigbovo Omorogbe, Divisional Head, SME Banking, said banks are not shying away from their responsibilities of supporting SMEs.

In her words, “Commercial banks are not running away from supporting SMEs but joining hands with the government and other stakeholders to refinance all of what you see around infrastructure which is critical to the economy.

“I think the questions that should be answered for every proposal are, ‘Is it bankable?

“If you are going into this, what structure should be in place to ensure that the funds we are going to put in will be recovered back because we have stakeholders and investors who are also looking towards a good result’?”

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