Rivers is ready for business, says Fubara

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•Duke, Moghalu chart new economic course for state

Amid the political upheaval in Rivers State, Gov. Siminalayi Fubara, yesterday, declared to the investment community that the state is ready for business, calling on investors to pour in for the impressive opportunities for high returns.

Fubara, who spoke at the ongoing Rivers State Economic and Investment Summit 2024, reeled out efforts the state government is making to protect private investment in the state and allow the residents to earn a decent living, assuring prospective investors that there are no encumbrances of whatever form in investing in the oil-rich state.

At the two-day summit, the state government officials and investment consultants are taking prospects through opportunities in different sectors – oil, natural gas, tourism, agriculture, manufacturing and many others – with the intent of marketing the states’ comparative advantages.

The governor recalled the role of the Trans Amadi Industry Layout in the heydays of Nigeria’s industrial exploits and regretted that Rivers lost its groove in the intervening years.

The state chief executive, however, assured that his administration is open and ready to work with investors and industrialists to restore its lost glory. He insisted that Rivers offers much more than oil and gas in the efforts to reboot the economy. His administration, he said, has embarked on comprehensive reforms to improve the ease of doing business and make the business climate friendlier.

“For decades, the Rivers State Government had continued to depend more on allocations from the federation account to fund its expenditures because tax revenues had remained low due to low investments and economic growth,” the governor said, adding that he was committed to reverse the trend.

The host said the administration is making headway in repositioning the state as the destination of domestic and foreign investments even as it ramps up the $28 billion gross domestic product (GDP) in the coming years. Permit and title processes, he said, are being reformed to incentivise investments.

“We have already implemented certain policy initiatives and reforms, including the prompt allocation and issuance of land titles and certificates of occupancy to prospective investors and a moratorium on state taxes and levies on new businesses.

“We are also working on the harmonisation of state and local government taxes to eliminate double taxation and the imposition of multiple levies on investors,” he told the participants.

A former governor of Cross River state, Donald Duke, and a former deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof Kingsley Moghalu, canvassed effective utilisation of both human and natural resources as policy options for charting a new economic course in the state.

The duo who spoke as chairman of the occasion and keynote speaker respectively, harped on the huge resources of the resources but noted that only purposeful governance could prevent a resource curse and achieve sustainable economic growth.

Speaking, Duke noted that despite the humongous amount of gas in the state, the country is yet to know how to utilise gas to boost revenue.

“We flare is enough to sustain a hundred and seventy of such plants in this state alone. We have got to make the treasure work for all of us. And that is the challenge of this summit,” he said.

Duke also recalled that in 1980, “our population was about 72 million, the four years between 1979-1983, when Shagari was the President, the budget was about $25 billion. About 44 years later, our population is perhaps 230 million. Yet, our national budget is 19 billion.

The former governor also noted that while low inflation and growth are equally important, the authorities must prioritise which of the twin problems deserves priority.

According to him, growth would eventually increase economic activities and absolve inflationary pressure, which is better for the economy and local capacity utilisation.



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