Remarks by Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, at the Second Interactive Dinner with the Organised Private Sector; Murtala Square, Kaduna, 08 November 2016
It is my pleasure to welcome you to this interactive dinner. We welcome the opportunity to listen to you and share ideas on how to promote economic development in our state. At this stage, there can be no doubt that this government regards the private sector as a vital partner in achieving its governance agenda of job creation, poverty reduction, economic empowerment and security.
Without a vibrant private sector, the possibilities of government are already stymied. Not even countries that are awash in petrodollars can sustain the role of government as sole employer. The private sector is the engine of sustainable job creation. It is the duty of government to encourage and support business to unleash its creative powers, to identify and seize opportunities and create a dynamo of growth. As a government, we assigned the private sector the important role of helping to realise our State Development Plan, 2016-2020 through N800bn of investments.
As you are aware, this morning our Deputy-Governor Architect Barnabas Yusuf Bala launched the Business Licences Reform (BLR) programme. This is part of our general commitment to improve the Ease of Doing Business in Kaduna State. BLR will reduce the time and cost of securing business permits and enhance the ability of legislation and regulations to support competition and business friendly policies. We hope that these steps will encourage more business enterprises to enter the formal sector, create jobs and help improve our internally generated revenue.
We were able to showcase the business potentials of the State through the Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit (KADInvest). Although we were delighted to announce major investments by Olam, Dangote and other investors, we especially welcomed the platform to explain the policy and legal environment we had created to encourage business in Kaduna State. From the unique Tax Code law to the creation of a digital land registry and the establishment of an investment one-stop shop, KADIPA, Kaduna State is demonstrating that it understands its duty as enabler. Significantly, we closed KADInvest by announcing an Ease of Business Committee, with membership from the three branches of government. The organised private sector is also represented on this committee by the Kaduna Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture.
We also have private sector representation on the board of KADIPA which is chaired by the Deputy-Governor, with John Coumantarous of Flour Mills as Vice-Chair.
At this point, it is crucial to clarify that our focus is not only on the mega deals. We are as interested in the robust performance of micro and small businesses as we are in firms that can employ thousands at a go. We are not even pursuing only greenfield projects. We want the revival and rehabilitation of our textiles factories and other businesses that have had difficulties. That is why we are engaging the Federal Government to ensure that electric power supply from the Gurara Hydro and Kudenda Thermal power projects are dedicated to the needs of the Kakuri and Kudenda industrial areas.
The clarity of rules, the elimination of multiple taxation, cash collections and harassment and the ease of obtaining licenses and permits are changes that apply to all firms. If you create jobs and pay tax, you are our friend because you are helping us to empower our people.
I call on you, our private sector partners to see the tax you pay as your contribution to our agenda of social justice as these fund our free education and healthcare programmes.
We are committed to engaging with you through all these channels. Please feel free to challenge our policies, their effectiveness and sense of fairness. It is only friends that tell the blunt truth to one another. Government has no better friend and partner than businesses and civil society organizations. We therefore welcome criticism more than commendation, and we look forward to an engaging interactive session tonight.
Thank you for listening.
God bless Kaduna State.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai
8 November 2016