With the coronavirus causing losses and dislocations, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), has told the Lagos State Government to support business recovery to enable operators to equally fulfil their civic responsibilities.
The Chamber noted that it will take a while for many businesses to recover from the consequential shocks from coronavirus, thus necessitating intervention and consideration by the state to support business to recover.
With many still grappling with breach of contractual obligations, inability to retain staff, cost escalation resulting from exchange rate depreciation, loss of foreign credit lines, burden of loan repayment, and collapse of consumer purchasing power, the Chamber said a business has to be alive to fulfil its obligations to the state.
LCCI President, Mrs Toki Mabogunje, while commending the efforts and commitment of the Lagos State Government to the containment and response strategies on the COVID-19 pandemic, also called for support to assist businesses grapple with disruptions arising from the pandemic, and expressed optimism at both businesses and economic recovery.
This comes as Lagos Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said the state was adopting measures to absorb the shocking effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), to ensure business sustainability and stimulate economic growth. Sanwo-Olu, who made the disclosure in a private sector interactive webinar organised by the LCCI, yesterday, informed of an increase of N5 billion as palliatives for MSMEs, to enable them stay afloat, reduce job losses, and ensure sustainability. He added that within the next one month, Lagos plans to hold an internship programme, which would accommodate about 10,000 persons to acquire additional skills to keep them employed and engaged.
“These persons would be paid over the duration of training expected to be between three to six months.
“We need to engage people, make them employable by your industries and put monies in their hands so that they can buy the products you manufacture.
“The state had already started by reducing its budget by over 20 per cent, and increasing its health allocation to scale up health infrastructural financing within the state.
“We are increasing the number of laboratories from five to 12, and plans to license additional laboratories and accredited primary health institutions to improve testing capacity are ongoing.
“We are also in collaboration with over 330 primary health institutions, 29 secondary health facilities and are scaling up advocacy and training to identify mild to moderate cases and tackle critical ones,” he said.
The Governor added that Lagos would continue to remain accountable and transparent to the public with regards to donations by publishing in batches contributions received.
“There are still some food items in the warehouse, and we are working on distribution models to ensure they get to the masses,” he said, adding that plans are underway to draft single digit borrowing from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and suspend all interest on borrowings on the state’s trust fund.
He equally encouraged manufacturing companies to adopt longer and overnight shifts in tandem with approved safety measures.
Post COVID-19, Sanwo-Olu said the state would be completing the biggest rice mill in Nigeria by December, to tackle food insecurity experienced during the lockdown, while also addressing interstate food transportation challenges in collaboration with south-western and some northern states.
Meanwhile, Mabogunje notified the Governor of the Chamber’s plans to build a convention and conference centre at the Lekki Free Zone.
She said: “We appreciate the enormity of the challenges and the burden on the resources of Lagos state.
“On our part as LCCI we have made a modest contribution to support these efforts. Our members, as individual corporate entities have also made several donations in support of the government efforts.
“We would continue to encourage them to do more as the pandemic is far from over. We will appreciate the intervention and consideration of the state government in supporting the recovery of businesses from these disruptions and dislocations.”