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Lagos Chamber of commerce asks govt to create asset register to ease debt burden

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…seeks holistic port reforms

Nigeria’s foremost trade group, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has said it’s important that the country create a national asset register as part of measures to ease the pressure of debt service on the budget.

Toki Mabogunje, president of the trade group noted that the majority of Nigeria’s debts are not linked to assets or specific projects.
“We note that the majority of Nigeria’s debts are not linked to assets or specific projects.

As such, it is critical to create a national asset register, and have a coordinated mechanism in place for valuing and managing Nigerian assets.

According to her, the practice of government’s resorting to issuing new debt to redeem maturing ones is not an optimal debt management strategy.

It is critically important to replace existing debts with asset-linked securities to reduce debt cost.  This will ease the pressure of debt service on the budget.”

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On the recent efforts to decongest the road leading to the nation’s busiest Seaport in Apapa, the chamber commended the measures so far introduced.

However, the LCCI said the government needs to address holistically the entire process of cargo handling in the port, which contributes to the prevailing environment.
Mabogunje said that the electronic call-up system aimed at resolving the systemic gridlock crisis around the Apapa corridor caused by port congestion is a work-in-progress.

She said the system may not alone provide a sustainable solution to numerous issues faced by economic agents at the ports.

“It is important for the Federal Government, Lagos State government, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), and other relevant stakeholders to address the internal issues within the ports including the terminal operators, custom processes and procedures, quality of cargo handling equipment, lack of credible framework for dispute resolution on import valuation and classification, presence of several government agencies with overlapping roles, serial extortions and racketeering; and other structural bottlenecks stifling the ease of doing business at the ports.

“The solution to this problem must be holistic and inclusive.  It demands strong political will to bring discipline to the entire cargo clearing and export evacuation processes.

“Despite the laudable initiative of the Electronic Call-Up system and the initial successes recorded on its introduction, there seems to be a reversion to the old ways.

“Many importers and exporters are expressing severe frustrations,” she said.

The LCCI president asserted that to achieve an enabling investment environment for the advancement of the Nigerian economy and the good of all investors and economic players, right policy and regulatory framework are imperative.

“Our policies and regulations must foster business competitiveness at national, sub-regional, continental, and global levels.

“The environment must support businesses, preserve investments, and create job opportunities,” she added.

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