Economic growth should reflect in consumers’ welfare – LCCI

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said that the country’s exit from recession and its current economic growth must be felt by the ordinary consumer before it can be seen to be real.

The country exited its worst recession in 25 years in the third quarter of 2017.

Following the exit, President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, and many economists have warned that it is too early to celebrate.

Buhari had said that until the exit from recession was felt by Nigerians, there was no point celebrating.

The LCCI observed that the marginal growth of 0.55 per cent with which the country exited recession was too slow, largely aided by improved oil prices and production. The growth, they stressed, was fragile and the nation could slip back into recession.

It reiterated that the exit from recession could only be sustainable if Nigerians felt the impact.

It stressed the need for a more conducive business environment for the private sector and small business owners responsible for mass employment in the economy.

Although the economic growth has since been steady, with the continued improvement in oil prices and production, it has not reflected in some sectors, such as manufacturing. The manufacturing sector slipped back into -2.85 per cent in the third quarter of last year after witnessing positive growth of 1.36 per cent in the first quarter.

Rising unemployment in the country seems to confirm the fact that the growth is not impacting on the populace, according to analysts.

The National Bureau of Statistics in its latest report revealed that more than four million Nigerians were unemployed in 2017.

 Also in its recent economic review for 2017, the LCCI maintained that the exit from recession and Nigeria’s economic growth should have reflected in the cost of doing business, productivity of investors, competitiveness of firms and the sustainability of investments.

The Director General, LCCI, Mr. Muda Yusuf, said, “And to the average Nigerian, what matters is the effect on welfare, especially lower food prices, reduced cost of healthcare, improved transportation system, constant power supply and security of lives and property.

“With unemployment rate at an all-time high of 18.8 per cent  in the third quarter of 2017, and many employers including the public sector finding it difficult to pay workers as and when due in 2017,we need to worry about recovery and rapid job creating growth as we move into 2018.”

He observed that while the impact of foreign exchange fluctuation on prices could have moderated, food supply and related issues such as transportation and logistics remained a big problem in the country.

“This is partly the consequence of the decline in farming activities due to the security challenges of farming caused by the continued insurgency in the North-East and activities of herdsmen across the country,” he explained.