(Bloomberg) — Nigeria will simplify its tax laws and improve electricity supply this year to ensure that businesses are competitive and attract investment, President Bola Tinubu said in his New Year’s speech.
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Fiscal and tax policies will be codified and simplified to make sure the “business environment does not destroy value” and obstacles that impede competitiveness will be addressed, he said. “I will not hesitate to remove any clog hindering our path to making Nigeria a destination of choice for local and foreign investments.”
Tinubu also said that a deal signed with Siemens Energy AG last month will speed up the delivery of power projects that will deliver reliable electricity to homes and businesses. “My administration recognizes that no meaningful economic transformation can happen without steady electricity supply,” he said.
The German engineering company was contracted by Africa’s most populous nation in 2019 to rehabilitate and expand Nigeria’s electricity grid by 2025 but warned in August that it may only conclude the project in 2030.
The president, who took office in late May, pledged to make electricity more accessible and affordable in the nation, where more than 40% of its population lack access to power and face constant blackouts. In 2020, the World Bank estimated the economic cost of power shortages in Nigeria at around $28 billion – equivalent to 2% of its gross domestic product.
The focus areas will add to other reforms Tinubu has instituted since becoming president to woo investment back into the economy. They include ending costly fuel subsidies and relaxing the country’s complex exchange-rate regime, which in part led the naira to plunge 49% against the dollar last year. While the policies have brought discomfort to households and businesses and stoked inflation that’s at 28.2%, they were needed to “save our country from fiscal catastrophe,” he said.
To cushion the impact of the policies on the cost of living the West African nation will introduce a new national minimum wage for workers this year, the president said.
Other plans announced include:
Stepping up the cultivation of 500,000 hectares (1.2 million acres) of farmland across the country to grow maize, rice, wheat, millet and other staple crops
The restarting of local processing of petroleum products with Port Harcourt and Dangote refineries coming fully on stream in 2024
(Adds background on Siemens project in paragraph four and minimum wage in paragraph seven)
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