Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has said that though there might be challenges with the present duty waivers and tax regimes in the country, the federal government is working hard to correct the wrongs with the view to encouraging the growth of small businesses and attracting foreign investments.
Speaking at a forum on job creation, skills and employment at the ongoing 22nd Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja, the Vice President explained that the emphasis of the government on agriculture and agro-businesses was premised on its agenda on diversification and self-reliance in food production for domestic consumption.
According to a statement by his spokesman, Laolu Akande, Osinbajo said the enormity of the challenge with tax holidays and waivers could not be addressed by a ‘one size, fits-all’ tax holidays initiative, stressing that there were areas that the government would revisit and revise.
He said the Presidential Enabling Business Council, PEBEC, a special initiative of the federal government established by President Muhammadu Buhari in collaboration with the private sector, was looking at incentives and issues related to waivers.
The Vice President, who had spoken extensively on the administration’s economic policies on Day 1 of the summit, also emphasized what government was doing to support funding of small businesses in the country.
He said: ‘‘There are complications around funding and that is why in the short term, intervention funds are what we think might work. We are looking at intervention funds in agriculture, we have the anchor borrowers’ programme, we are resuscitating the Bank of Agriculture, and recapitalizing it.
‘‘We expect that the Bank of Agriculture and a few other banks will be able to provide some cheap funds for agriculture, we are already seeing that in the anchor borrowers’ programme.
‘‘We also think that intervention fund in setting up areas like health, before we are able to get the overall monetary environment right, is necessary.’’
Similarly, Osinbajo revealed plans by the federal government to raise up to N1 trillion with the help of private investors to finance mortgages for low-income earners, even as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it plans to sell N138.16 billion in short-dated treasury bills at an auction.
In a public notice, the apex bank said it would raise N36.78 billion in three-month papers, N35 billion in six-month bills and N66.38 billion in one-year bills. Payment for the purchases would be made on Thursday.
Osinbajo who did not specify when the fund would be raised said the capital raised would be used as an intervention fund to help low income earners afford homes of their own.
“It is actually a financial intervention fund. Already we are trying to aggregate funds from the private sector, local and international investors. The idea is that any Nigerian who earns at least 30,000 naira ought to be able to own a home,” he said, adding that the developers would be able to use the mortgages raised by the fund to build affordable housing.
Nigeria which has a population of more than 180 million people, suffers from a housing shortage.