By Rotimi Ijikanmi
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of Presidential Council on Ease of Doing Business, to remove red tapes and other impediments associated with investment in the country.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed this on Saturday in Lagos at the 2016 Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum.
The minister said the council will help to facilitate easy registration of businesses, clearing of goods from the ports, obtaining visa, paying taxes and obtaining land titles, among others.
He said that the government took the decision to encourage old and new entrepreneurs to bring in more investments in to the country.
Mohammed said the administration is also taking measures to reduce fiscal and foreign exchange imbalances, boost dollar liquidity, curb inflation, lower interest rate and ensure lending to real sector.
He noted that the Buhari Administration was moving the country away from a mono-product economy to a diversified one, and in the process opening up great opportunities for businesses.
“With the crash in oil prices, which has negatively impacted on our economy, we are left with no choice but to explore new possibilities.
“The areas we are targeting include agriculture, solid minerals and the creative industries. We are also engaging in massive infrastructural development” he said.
He said agriculture is first plank of the economic diversification and revival strategy and the government is encouraging local production of rice, maize, sorghum, millet and soya beans for self sufficiency in the stables.
“Farmers in 11 of the country’s 36 states are receiving credit support through the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“This year, one state alone, Kebbi, will produce 1 million tonnes of rice. More states are joining Kebbi in rice production,” he said.
Mohammed said that government is investing massively in critical infrastructure, like roads, power and housing.
He said they were also pursuing alternative sources of power, including solar, hydro, thermal and wind to contribute to the energy mix.
The minister noted that of the N724 billion so far released for capital project in the budget, N197 billion was for power, works and housing.
The minister said government had also put measures in place to address the high rate of unemployment in the country.
He congratulated the 2016 Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurs and hailed the initiative of the founder for assisting African young entrepreneurs to grow.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the entrepreneurship project is a decade long commitment to grow 10,000 African stand up and businesses that are capable of creating millions of new jobs.
The host and founder of the foundation, Mr Tony Elumelu said two years into the project 2,000 young entrepreneurs from 54 African countries had so far benefitted.
He said the foundation would invest 100 million dollar to train, mentor and seed 10,000 African young entrepreneurs.
NAN reports that the event was attended by President Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Prime Minister of Benin Republic, Lionel Zinsou, Abia governor, Okezie Ikpeazu among others.