FG hands over Lagos, Abuja international airports to private firms

Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo,on Monday said the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the concessioning of the Lagos and Abuja International Airports for better management.

Osinbajo said this in Abuja at the fifth Presidential Quarterly Business Forum aimed at improving the ease of doing business in Nigeria.

“We are working hard to make the airports more passenger friendly, but then we have several issues. Infrastructure is in a terrible state and we know that public sector has a poor record on maintenance of facilities.’’

He said the airports needed to be overhauled as they lacked basic facilities as most of the available ones were dilapidated.

He said for the economy to be improved, the private sector needed to be involved in many ways.

“Partnership with the private sector is not only a policy, it is the most sensible thing to do and our approach is to engage, work collaboratively to take criticisms and suggestions seriously and to respond.’’

He said a lot needed to be done in the whole process to ensure that what needed to be done was done to guarantee change and improve the economy.

He, however, said change was always slow but that the nation must remain focused to achieve the required objectives.

Osinbajo said the readiness to confront the covert and overt resistance of a system accustomed to rent seeking and gratification were also important

“The private sector is also used to a system where there is constant gratification and rent seeking and in order to reverse and stop that, it involves calling out public officials who are involved in such.

“So it means the private sector cannot say because I want to do my own business as quickly as possible I will not call out anybody who is seeking gratification or bribe.

“We have to do this thing and if we do not we will not solve the problem,’’ he said.

He said the regulators of all the sectors of the economy should ensure that they were facilitators to the ease of doing business initiative and not obstacles to the growth being sought for.

Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, said the progress made in the business community so far had helped the economy come out of recession.

He said some of the successes of the Federal Government were tied to the responsiveness and engagements from the private sector.

“Forums like this help strengthen the engagement between the private sector and the government and we have used the feedbacks to improve our policies and interventions.

“In many respects we are becoming more and more of a responsive government and we are mindful of the challenges that businesses face, particularly the private sector and incoming investors. We would like to understand some of these issues better and proffer solutions.

He said there was continued concern about what appeared to be an adversarial relationship and trust deficit between the private sector and government.

He added that there were several complaints about multiplicity of taxes and agencies that collect various levies at the different levels of government, adding that there was also the issue of coordination between government agencies.

He assured that some of these issues were already being worked on using the executive orders that were issued on fast tracking businesses for both the local and foreign investors.

“I know that we are beginning to see improvements in the registration of businesses, in getting credit with the enactment of new bills on credit and collateral.

“We are continuing to simplify the procedures for paying taxes and progress is being made with regards to visas at the airports for entry and exit of people.’’

The forum was focused on enabling business environment as it pertained to government regulators, was aimed at sharing the views the current regulatory environment users of government regulations were confronted with.

It also served as an opportunity to give an update on the current Ease of Doing Business initiatives and the current impact on the regulatory environment.

 

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