Make Enugu hospitable hub for productive economic activities – Economist urges Enugu govt



A Development Economist, Prof. Chiwuike Uba, has urged Enugu State Government to concentrate on making the state hospitable hub for productive economic activities, which necessitates a paradigm shift in the government’s approach.




Uba, the Executive Director, Amaka Chiwuike Uba Foundation (ACUF) Initiative for Policy and Governance, an NGO, gave the advice while speaking with newsmen in Enugu on Sunday.




He spoke on the sidelines of the recently released proposed 2024 Budget of ₦521.6 billion of Enugu State, tagged: “Budget of Disruptive Economic Growth”, presented to the Enugu State House of Assembly.




The economist said: “It becomes abundantly clear that concerted efforts must be made to rectify the current situation by a paradigm shift in the government’s approach in terms of fostering an atmosphere of collaboration, support, and guidance to businesses.




“By embracing this approach, Enugu State stands poised to attract new investments, propel existing businesses to greater heights, and ultimately fortify its economy to thrive in the competitive landscape of today’s Nigeria”.




He noted that the proposed 2024 budget, which is the financial blueprint of the state for the upcoming year, seems to had overlooked or rather misjudged the prevailing trend of the state’s cash flow.




The economist said that despite the scarcity of factors and incentives needed to promote business growth, enhance productivity, and alleviate poverty in the state, the proposed budget failed to adequately address these pressing issues.




“Currently, Enugu State finds itself languishing at the bottom of the ease of doing business rankings, a dismal position that raises serious concerns about the rationale behind the exorbitant fee rates imposed within its boundaries.




“In the latest 2023 Nigeria Sub-national Ease of Doing Business Report, Enugu State is shamefully placed as the 36th among all states and the Federal Capital Territory, indicating a blatant disregard for fostering a business-friendly environment.




“Furthermore, the state fares no better in the realm of Economic Opportunities, as it languishes at the 30th spot out of the total 36 states and the FCT.




“While the improvement of the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is undoubtedly crucial, the greater urgency lies in devising astute and collaborative initiatives that incentivize existing businesses and entice new enterprises to grace the state’s doorstep,” he said.




Uba noted that regrettably, businesses in the state must provide for themselves almost all the basic amenities that should rightfully be within the purview of the government, forcing them to shoulder an unfair burden.




According to him, while the government and its agencies opportunistically extract rents from the private sector in a predatory fashion.




He acknowledged the social obligation of citizens to fulfill their tax and other non-tax responsibilities, however, said that the government must exercise caution and avoid the perilous path of stifling the very entities responsible for generating the golden eggs.




“A meticulous examination of the state’s third-quarter budget implementation report reveals a rather disheartening reality, with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s total recurrent expenditure by September 2023 amounting to a mere N124 million, including a paltry N1.2 million spent by the SME promotion.




“However, it is imperative to recognize that the creation of a conducive business environment inherently stimulates the emergence of opportunities, paving the way for the establishment and expansion of enterprises that, in turn, generate employment opportunities.




“These jobs subsequently become subject to taxation, effectively bolstering government coffers.




“Unfortunately, the prevailing sentiment among most businesses in the state is that the governmental agencies exhibit a disproportionate enthusiasm for uncovering alleged wrongdoing, even in the absence of any evidence, rather than providing the essential guidance and support needed to ensure regulatory compliance.




“Consequently, only a scant few businesses feel comfortable reaching out to state agencies for assistance or clarification regarding regulations,” he added.

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