Home Business Privatisation beneficial, saves Nigeria $3b yearly—Alex Okoh

Privatisation beneficial, saves Nigeria $3b yearly—Alex Okoh

by Business News Report

The privatisation and commercialisation process is for the benefit of Nigeria’s economic recovery and wellbeing of the people even as it frees $3 billion consumed by Public Enterprises (PEs) annually. The savings from the process is in terms of subventions, waivers and unpaid taxes of public enterprises. Mr Alex Okoh, the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), explained in a statement issued by Amina Othman, Head, Public Communications, on Thursday in Abuja. Okoh spoke at the dinner/award night in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of reform, commercialisation and privatisation in Nigeria.

He said the private sector has been positioned through these reforms to become the engine room of economic activities and infrastructural development, while government focuses on governance and creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. He added that the programme was not designed to share the country’s national assets to a few rich people as erroneously believed. “We are not replacing public monopolies with private monopolies. Rather, in our determination to be unyielding and uncompromising in the pursuit of the best interest of this country, we are removing the financial burden which these enterprises constitute on the public purse and releasing resources for the essential functions of government. This essentially is the mandate given to BPE, to pursue this vision, thereby contributing to the socio-economic development of Nigeria.”

According to him, a less known but very important aspect of the BPE programme with far reaching impact is the reform of sectors to provide the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive. “The bureau has initiated and executed far-reaching reforms in telecommunications, pensions, seaports, debt management and solid minerals. Most recently, it executed the power sector reform that led to the successful unbundling, privatisation and in some cases, concessioning of the successor companies created out of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria.” The Director-General said the programme consists of reform, commercialisation and privatisation in various sectors of the economy including aviation, development finance, postal sector, downstream oil and gas and other initiatives. “It also consists of major infrastructure areas like roads, railways, airports, national inland waterways and the special economic or free-trade zones,” he added.

He said that the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) and the BPE were pursuing the current transactions with renewed vigour, confidence and in a more responsible manner. He added that the BPE had a new vision for the future that was based on rediscovery and repositioning. “This has put the bureau on a path of disciplined and responsible reform, an effective post-privatisation management regime and a pivot to addressing the infrastructural deficit by tackling the defective Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP) framework currently in place in Nigeria.” Okoh lamented that the PPP governance framework as currently structured was complex and a disincentive to attracting reliable and big pocket private sector investors to the infrastructure market. This, he said, was in spite of the development of a PPP policy in 2009, establishment of Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) and creation of PPP units in nearly all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

He, however, said that the BPE had been repositioned to play a major role in coordinating and driving the process. “We are well-equipped from our track record and robust processes to provide a one-stop-shop for prospective investors under a consistent, fair, equitable and transparent process. “However, we can only achieve this expeditiously if the present ambiguities in coordination, governance and institutional framework for infrastructure development through PPP are addressed. This will give confidence to private investors in both the integrity of the process and protection of investments. This is the role we have set our minds on and we are determined to see it through with the support and collaboration of key stakeholders.” Okoh thanked the Vice President Chairman of the NCP, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, for his guidance and support. He also commended members of the NCP, its standing committees and Ministers, for their cooperation and direction which have made the remarkable achievements recorded possible.

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