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Lagos chamber urges liberalization of fuel import licensing

The federal government has been urged to promote transparency and competition in the oil sector by liberalizing fuel import licensing and vital activities in the…

The federal government has been urged to promote transparency and competition in the oil sector by liberalizing fuel import licensing and vital activities in the midstream and downstream to attract desired investments.

This was part of the consensus reached at the end of the 2023 Mid-Year Economic Review and Outlook organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and Cordros Capital.

The Director General of LCCI, Dr Chinyere Almona, who read the communique, noted that businesses faced difficult operating environment in the first half of 2023 due to rising interest rates, inflation, foreign exchange fluctuations and changes in the oil and gas industry.

She, however, suggested liberalisation of the fuel import licenses and institutional reorganization of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, as part of measures to boost the economy.

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“Institutional reorganisation is urgently needed in the CBN and the NNPC to improve transparency and accountability. The operating environment of NNPCL is somewhat opaque, which is anti-competition.

“The oil sector will attract the desired investment if the government liberalizes fuel import licenses and other vital activities in the midstream and downstream,” she noted.

The Lagos Chamber also suggested that the government should consider the urgent need for an all-encompassing economic and fiscal plan, full/ partial divestment of state-owned real estate, improved transport sector, and energy assets as post-election priorities.

“Government should unlock revenue from assets by complementing tax with rent, fees, dividends, and capital gains. Economies that optimize revenue through equities have recently offset the loss from declining commodity prices.

“The new administration is advised to borrow better to reduce debt costs by issuing a more asset-linked debt than IOUs. The non-interest-bearing debt opportunities should be explored as emerging markets tilt towards project equity financing,” she said.

The communique added that the Bureau De Change (BDC) should not be referred to as parallel or unofficial markets, because they are officially licensed to trade.

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