By Merit Ibe

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has reiterated the need for government at all levels to urgently establish the market value of assets; securitise corporate assets and commercialise real estate assets to boost revenue and foreign exchange inflows.

The Director General, Dr. Chinyere Almona, made the remark during deliberations by the chamber on practical steps that could be taken by the government to boost revenue and foreign exchange.

Almona proposed the need for government to identify these public assets in terms of location, purpose, and usage contained in a national asset register; determine their worth and create a dynamic online digital platform where the financialised and commercialised assets can be offered for investment. She noted that Nigeria is an asset-rich nation owning hundreds of large state-owned companies, valuable parcels of land, and built structures in prime commercial locations.

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The DG lamented that these assets were grossly underutilised and contribute too little to the country’s fiscal and financial situation because their market values are currently not known.

Worried over the fiscal and financial challenges which have been of  concern to several stakeholders including the chamber, Almona explained that government has increasingly resorted to debt to finance recurrent and capital obligations in the face of dwindling revenue. She added that the country’s debt situation has become worrisome with debt servicing consuming a significant share of the revenue. “The debt service to revenue ratio for the period of January to May 2021 stood at about 98 percent up from 83 percent recorded in 2020 according to the budget implementation report.”

She suggested the need to replace existing debt stocks with asset-linked debt to ease the debt servicing burden; attract greenfield FDI into publicly-listed state-owned companies; generate new revenue streams from commercialised real estate portfolios.

Almona clarified that the proposals of the chamber do not connote the sale of national assets but a mechanism to generate more revenue from the assets without their outright sales, adding that the chamber would soon engage with all relevant stakeholders to discuss implementation mechanisms.