Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, has disclosed that plans are on the way to have a permanent site for the Premier Trade Fair in Nigeria and the largest International Exhibition in West Africa, the Lagos International Trade Fair.
Speaking today through his Deputy Governor, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, at the opening of the 34th Edition of the Lagos International Trade Fair at Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, the Governor said talks are at an advanced stage for the provision of a permanent site for the fair.
The Governor noted that the exhibition, in its over 43 years of existence, has become the most prominent trade event which has provided unique opportunities for traders, investors and buyers from different parts of the globe and has continued to make significant impact on the economy of the State and the Nation at large.
Commenting on the theme of this year’s exhibition, “Connecting Businesses, Creating Value”, Governor Sanwo-Olu described the theme as apt, stressing that it is also a wake-up call for any discerning government desirous of turning the economy around for the better.
Sanwo-Olu assured the business community that his administration is committed to improving and sustaining the business environment to make it more attractive for investment, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and devasting outcomes that followed the hijack of the peaceful #ENDSARS protest.
He said, “As a Government, we are doing all we can to restore hope and to also help these businesses get back on their feet. We understand that restoring our city will entail giving hope and succour to entrepreneurs and business owners in order to cushion the effect of all that has happened to them. We have provided avenues to give financial support in form of loans and grants. We will also be providing a tax break of PAYE to affected business owners where appropriate”.
“The Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) is partnering with the private sector players to help businesses, whose properties were looted or vandalised. We have also created N2.5bn Lagos Recovery Fund for looted businesses and so far, over 2,500 business owners have applied”, he submitted.
He further re-affirmed that the State government will not relent in its efforts, knowing fully that the task of achieving the goal of sustainable trade and industrial development is by no means an easy task, as government will continue to introduce policies and initiatives that will stand the test of time.
In his keynote address, President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented at the event by the Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, disclosed that the Federal government has commenced nationwide implementation of the MSME initiatives, namely the N60 billion MSME Survival Fund and the N15 billion MSME Guaranteed Offtake Stimulus Scheme.
He said the two schemes are at the core of the stimulus packages being implemented by the government to help cushion the impact of COVID-19 pandemic with a view to boosting the economy by saving existing jobs and creating job opportunities.
The President disclosed further that the MSME Survival Fund, which is estimated to save over a million jobs across the country, is a conditional grant to support vulnerable Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in meeting their payroll obligations and safeguard jobs in MSMEs from the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, while the Guaranteed Off-take Scheme is targeted at micro and small businesses registered in Nigeria and will save about 300,000 jobs and 100,000 MSMEs by guaranteeing off-take of priority products.
Buhari, therefore, called on all Nigerians to support locally manufactured goods in order to boost trade activities and prospects and as well create job opportunities, diversify the economy, build industrial capacity and trade competitiveness, and improve the management of the foreign exchange reserves.
Earlier in her welcome address, the President, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Toki Mabogunje disclosed that the 2020 edition of the Lagos International Trade Fair is a hybrid event that combines physical and virtual platforms and participation.
She said the theme, “Connecting Businesses, Creating Value”, underscores the importance of relationships and networking among businesses for the purpose of wealth creation and also underlines the value of interactions between producers and service providers and the end-users, which is a cardinal objective of the Trade Fair.
Mabogunje averred that the Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) is committed to the vision of the current administration in respect of economic diversification and self-reliance as its programmes, advocacy activities and capacity development are geared towards the realisation of economic aspirations.
The President of LCCI, thanked the Federal Government and Lagos State Government for mitigating the adverse effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on the business environment and expressed confidence that the various initiatives in the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) will accelerate the pace of economic recovery and put businesses on the path of sustainable growth.