Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, expressed optimism of improved business environment in 2014 in spite of persisting challenges facing the real sector.
Alhaji Remi Bello, President of LCCI told Financial Vangaurd, “SMEs and the manufacturing sector remains the most troubled sector as evidenced by the negative investment sentiments expressed by the operators throughout the year.
“As the New Year begin, the LCCI hopes for a better business environment in 2014. We hope for improvement in the productive capacity of the Nigerian economy, the prosperity of enterprises and an improvement in the welfare of Nigerians.
“GDP growth in 2013 was strong at over 6 percent and in line with IMF projections and Federal Government’s estimates.
The concern, however, is the increasing disconnecting between the impressive growth numbers, productivity, quality of life and employment. This reality is reflected in the country’s performance in some major global rankings released in 2013.
Whereas Nigeria’s GDP ranking by the IMF was 37th out of 187 economies profiled; global competitiveness ranking by the World Economic Forum was 137th of 183 economies reported; while the Human Development Ranking by the UNDP was 153 out of 187 countries profiled.
In 2013, the year on year inflation rate trended at single digit up until October 2013 with an inflation rate of 7.8 percent. This is very impressive and in line with CBN aspiration of a modest price level in the country.
We hope that this trend is sustained in 2014 because stability of the price level remains a key factor for doing business. How much the exit of the current governor of the CBN, Mallam Lamido Sanusi come 2014 will affect the prevailing macroeconomic stability in the country remains to be seen.
The naira exchange rate also fluctuated within the set bound of N160 per dollar (plus and minus 5 percent) throughout the year.
We are satisfied with the apex bank’s efforts at ensuring exchange rate stability and we hope that this is sustained in 2014. Our concern is the continued protection of the exchange rate on the back of high interest rate with the attendant negative outcomes for businesses, output, employment and growth.