This Day (Lagos)

10 December 2012

Nigeria: Bayelsa State Signs Economic Pact With South Africa

The Bayelsa State Government has signed an economic pact with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) of South Africa As parts of its quest to shift the focus of the state economy from over-dependence on oil revenues.

Economic Adviser to Governor Seriake Dickson, Mr. Tam Alazigha said this after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the IDC in Yenagoa, which he said, would focus on operational and support skill requirement, human resource and capacity building.

Other areas of co-operation include best practices and investment partnership in Bayelsa Development and Investment Corporation (BDIC) development and support of institutional policy and procedure and overall guidance in both establishing and operating developmental institutions.

Speaking after the MoU had been signed, Alazigha explained that "is noted for transparency and accountability and with the position of the present administration on this key issue, foreign and local investors will be willing to invest in the state".

He expressed optimism over the success of the pact while noting that if fully implemented, the state government "stands to benefit more in terms of infrastructure renewal and development.

However, the BDIC with authorized share capital of N10 billion came into force in August 2012 following the passage of the bill by the Bayelsa State House of Assembly.

On the impact of the MoU on low income earners, the economic adviser said the pact would assist in financing of specific Small and Medium Size Enterprises, particularly as it relates to non oil and gas sectors, agriculture, agric processing, manufacturing and tourism.

Also, it will assess and consider approval of a line of credit, specifically for infrastructure financing, refinery, airport and roads. Meanwhile, the Bank of Industry (BOI) has said that the partnership could generate 200,000 jobs in Bayelsa state.

The BOI said this at the presentation of N1billion counterpart funding contribution draft of the state government for the development of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises to its Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Evelyn Oputu.

While receiving the draft from the governor, Oputu said the BOI had already approved 12 projects worth N72 million for the development of Small and Medium Scale businesses in the State.

She therefore assured the state government that the confidence reposed in the bank would not be misplaced, adding that she foresees a positive synergy between the bank and the government.

In a response, Dickson said the N1 billion equity contributions would be utilized for the purpose of building entrepreneurial skills with emphasis on the training of Youths and Women.

According to the governor, the empowerment programme is geared towards creating capacity, wealth and job opportunities that would make beneficiaries self-sustaining rather than depend on Government and other individuals for their livelihood.

Dickson expressed concern that Bayesians do not play active role in the local economy and expressed the hope that the partnership between Government and BOI would translate into the improvement of the quality of lives of the people and reverse the trend.

He said the development has resulted into a draw back on the capacity of the people to be self-reliant as every young man or woman has an entitlement mentality and rely solely on government.

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