The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has commended the Federal Government for allocating 30.8 per cent of the 2018 Federal Budget to capital projects.
The Director-General of LCCI, Mr Muda Yusuf, gave the commendation in a statement on Thursday in Lagos.
The N8.6 trillion 2018 Budget represents a 16 per cent increase in nominal term over the 2017 Budget of N7.44 trillion.
“We welcome the priority accorded to infrastructure in the budget proposal focusing on roads, railways, power projects, water projects and second Niger bridge.
“Reference was made to the embarrassing state of the access to the ports and the public private initiative to fix it.
“We welcome the decision to connect the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge to the Apapa and the Tin-Can Island port.
“But time is of the essence.
“There is an urgent need to save the private sector and investors from the agony of persistent gridlock at the Apapa and Tin-Can ports which accounts for over 70 per cent of import and export cargo in the country,” he said.
Yusuf said that it was imperative to formulate policies to mobilise private sector capital into the infrastructure space.
He said that consideration should be given to further reduction in cost of governance and scaling up remittances of surplus from MDAs to the coffers of government.
The LCCI boss also said there was the need to refocus government’s tax drive from direct to indirect taxes in line with the National Tax Policy.
“A disproportionate focus on direct taxation is detrimental to investment and hard work.
“There is also need to curb the growing incidence of multiplicity of taxes and levies on businesses at all levels of government,” he said.
According to him, as the budget appropriation process progresses, there is need for clarifications on the status of budgetary appropriation for petroleum subsidy both for the current fiscal year and 2018.
“It is also necessary to throw some light on the status of the estimated N800 billion debt to oil marketers.
“Investors in this sector would like to see a sustainable framework for the management of petrol subsidy,” Yusuf said.
He also called for clarification on the status of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) debts estimated at about N5 trillion within the debt management framework of the government.
Yusuf said that clarification on the framework for payment of contractors’ arrears which cuts across various MDAs should be provided.
“The non-payment of contractor’s arrears has taken a huge toll on many contractors.
“The amount involved has been estimated at over N1 trillion,” he said.
The LCCI boss appealed to the National Assembly to ensure speedy consideration of the appropriation bill toward normalising the budgetary cycle and bringing greater predictability to the economic management process.