Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday said the Federal Government would henceforth look for the right type of investors in its privatisation and commercialisation drive.
He explained that the regime would also be looking out for the right models also look at funding available to the investors over an extended period.
Osinbajo spoke while chairing the National Council on Privatization at the one-day investors’ webinar organised by the Bureau of Public Enterprises in collaboration with the Nigerian Exchange Group and Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission.
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The webinar was themed: ‘Showcasing investment opportunities in the Federal Government of Nigeria’s privatisation and Economic Reform Programme.
Osinbajo said, “The Federal Government of Nigeria is strongly committed to this approach to national economic development and we consider it an important duty to create the enabling environment for the required and much-needed investment input.”
He noted that past sector reforms in Nigeria had led to increased opportunities and extensive economic and social gains, including in the pension scheme, telecommunications, port, and power sectors.
The vice president said, “Our pension reform, for example, which replaced the old defined benefit scheme with the contributory pension scheme led to the creation of the Pension Commission which now has over N12.3tn in pension fund assets.
“Similarly, the reforms of our telecommunications sector increased the number of telephone lines in the country from about 450,000 in 2001 to currently well over 140 million active telephone lines and 97.9 per cent tele-density.
“Equally notable is our port sector reform which led to the concession of various terminals, bringing about major investment and transformation of the various port terminals including in revenue, employment and operational efficiency.”
He said despite the challenges, the Buhari regime remained committed to improving the country’s infrastructure and power sector.
Osinbajo said, “Our experience with the power sector underscores the importance of using the right moments in attracting investment, especially in the provision of infrastructure.
“What we have seen is that while you are privatising utilities of the size of our former Power Holding Company of Nigeria, we simply have to be far more intentional in looking out for the right models and the right type of investors and also looking at funding for these investors over an extended period.”
He said a major challenge of the Nigerian economy was its limited infrastructure stock, which is estimated to be about 35 percent of GDP, as compared to 70 per cent of GDP in peer countries.
“It is clear that there is a shortfall there and given the limited resources, the government alone cannot provide the financial outlays needed to meet the very huge infrastructure deficit there is and the needs of the economy,” he said.
He, therefore, underscored the importance of Public-Private Partnerships in promoting infrastructure development and driving economic growth, referencing the success recorded by the government’s tax credit initiative, especially road construction.