N1billion for travels too small to attract investments – Senate

Sharon EboesomiDecember 19, 20234 min

Both senate committees aligned on the position that N1billion for travel to attract investments was inadequate and called for increased funding for the ministry of trade 

Sadiq advocating for N1billion allocation
Sen. Sadiq Umar, Chairman, Senate Committee on Trade and Investment

The Senate has called for more funding to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) to enable officials embark on essential trips to woo investors into the country. 

This call was made by the Senate committee on trade and investment, chaired by Senator Sadiq Umar (APC, Kwara North) while presenting the report of budget for the ministry on Tuesday. 

Recall that there was public outrage over recent media reports which said the ministry plans to spend one billion naira on a foreign trip to woo investors to Nigeria.

In his presentation, Senator Umar said, “to really attract investment, we need to invest more and improve our trade. Any thing that the Appropriation Committee can do for these agencies, especially Nigerian Investment Commission Council and the Export Promotion Council and the Federal Importing Council is very very important so that we can strengthen these institutions to be able to support Nigerian economy by ensuring that we attract more investment as well as to make sure we are able to balance our trade as much as it is practical.”

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In response to the call, chairman of the Senate committee on appropriations, Senator Solomon Olamilekan (APC, Ogun West), agreed with his colleague and argued that N1billion was not an excessive amount for travels. He thereafter went on to clarify the allocation for travels.

Let me quickly answer the question you have asked. It’s not true that the ministry is travelling for N1 billion. That’s not true. That’s the whole budget for the ministry to move outside this country to go and attract investment. The truth is, as it is today, the effort that we have done mostly following Mr. President, we have invested billions and attracted billions of dollars in investment. So in the committee, we actually think that N1 billion, if you convert that to dollars, is actually small for the ministry to be able to go round the whole world to let investors know the opportunity that is in Nigeria and pick interest in Nigeria. 

“So that was blown out of proportion. It is not as if the ministry is going to spend N1 billion for a single trip, rather that is the whole budget we had for the whole year for the ministry to go all over this country to go and attract investment. 

“Let’s look at it economically, if we invest. $1 million to go around this country and bring $200 billion, we should be looking at economic sense of it, that you have to invest to bring investment and it’s very expensive. I think that we should consider increasing it rather than reducing it,” he added.

He however stressed the importance of changing the narratives and perception of people who have concluded that “things are not working in Nigeria. Yes, the economy is down, but for us to sustain the renewed hope. We have no option but to look forward and think of what we need to do for people to have confidence in our country. To achieve that, we need to go outside there to make the case,” he added.

Olamilekan, however, pledged the  lawmakers’ commitment to carry out aggressive oversight to ensure that the fund was appropriately utilised.

Sharon Eboesomi

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