Benjamin Dikki, director-general, Bureau of Public Enterprises, admits that collaboration with international development partners over the years, has positioned then Bureau as a knowledge-based institution in Nigeria
| By Maureen Chigbo | Sep. 22, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT |
BUREAU of Public Enterprises’ collaboration with international development partners has positioned it as a knowledge-based institution in Nigeria. Over the years, the BPE has been working with international development partners such as the World Bank, the US Agency for International Development, USAID, and the United Kingdom Department for International Development, DFID, among others. Through such collaborations, the organisations have given the BPE technical and financial support without which it would not have been able to achieve the success it has recorded so far in carrying out the reforms and privatization programmes of the federal government.
Benjamin Dikki, director general of the BPE, on Wednesday, September 10, in Abuja, acknowledged that collaboration with the international development partners has positioned the Bureau as a knowledge-based institution. He was making a presentation to the staff of DFID and other international development partners on “The Federal Government’s Privatization and Economic Reform Programme”. He also seized the opportunity to tell them about the achievements of the bureau as regards promoting some bills that facilitate the reforms and privatization process.
Dikki told the international audience that the overarching objective of the federal government’s reform and privatization programme was the need to “provide our people with the basic and affordable infrastructure to enable them create employment for themselves” as well as redirect funding by government to other key sectors of the economy that are socially imperative such as health, education, etc. and encourage the private sector to be the engine room for economic growth and development. He took them through the history of reforms in Nigeria and some of the key reform initiatives of the Bureau, noting that the Power Sector Policy of 2001 and Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005 were aimed at ensuring sustained electricity supply by creating a conducive investment environment for private sector investment and managerial expertise
The BPE championed the reforms that have revolutionized the country’s telecommunications sector with the enactment of the Telecom Act 2003 and the licensing of several service providers that have created millions of new jobs in the economy. From a tele-density of 0.42 percent, representing 450,000 telephone lines in 2001, the country’s tele-density has grown to 82 percent, representing over 123 million active telephone lines as at June 2013.
According to him, prior to the enactment of the Pension Reform Act of 2004, Public Enterprises habitually deducted pension contributions from their employees and lumped same with recurrent expenditure and spent them. That, he said, created a serious social problem. He, however, said that the pension reforms midwifed by the BPE simply separated the agency that deducted pension contributions from the agencies that managed such contributions. With the establishment of Pension Commission and entrenchment of a stable pension policy in Nigeria, retirees are now guaranteed payment on retirement, besides providing over N4 trillion in stable bank deposits that enable the banks to lend long term.
Also, Dikki elaborated on the role of the BPE in championing the reforms of the nation’s seaports through the concession of the various port terminals, adding that before the reform, it was practically impossible to carry out meaningful business activities in the ports as it took months to clear goods. Ports operations were characterised by long waiting periods, diversion of Nigerian-bound vessels to neighboring countries and very high and duplicated charges for ports users.
However, he said that to sustain the gains of past reforms; “eight critical reform bills are before the federal executive council and will soon be sent to the National Assembly for passage into Law. The bills are: Railway Bill, National Transport Commission Bill, Inland Waterways Bill, Ports & Harbor Reform Bill, Road Sector Reform Bill,
Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Bill, Roads Fund Bill and Postal Sector Reform Bill. These bills will abrogate monopoly laws, liberate the sectors, separate the roles of policy formulation from regulation and the two from operations in the sector and also set up independent regulators for the sectors.
The BPE boss said Nigeria would continue to initiate measures to attract quality foreign investors and capital that would boost technology transfer, economic development and Foreign exchange in-flow. He said Nigeria would continue to provide assurance and comfort to investors on the viability of recovering their costs and having a reasonable return on their investments.