Managing Director of FBN General Insurance, Mr. Bode Opadokun, in this interview speaks on measures government should put in place to revive the economy. Excerpts:
HOW has the insurance sector fared so far?
The economy has actually influenced and impacted on our business and the delay in the release of the budget also impacted negatively on the business. Recently, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, said that if care is not taken, the economy might go back into recession. So business thrives only when the economy is moving on a positive side.
In essence, all efforts must be made for the economy not to move back into recession. To achieve this, I think the fiscal policy of the government need to be reviewed. Government should put policies in place to encourage indigenous organisations. In essence, to what extent is the government providing the right platform for business to thrive? Government has no business in doing business, rather they should provide the right platform for business to thrive and survive.
The question should be: what are those things that the government is putting in place to boost the economy? How do we encourage indigenous organisations to thrive, so that there will be inflow of foreign investors? During election periods as this, so many people that have short term investments, especially foreigners, try to digest because they are not sure of the future of the country.
The political atmosphere during election period is also very challenging and so this invariably is also contributing to the probability of going back to recession.
However, l believe that the idea of having Chinese currency as one of the internationally acceptable currency will drive business growth in Nigeria. So once we are able to achieve that, the demand for dollars will be reduced and invariably it will have a positive impact on the exchange rate from dollar to naira which will have a positive impact on the economy.
The constant borrowing by the government has raised a lot of dust, what is your position on this?
I don't see anything wrong in government borrowing. However, what does government wants to use it for and what is the plan of paying it back? If it is genuine borrowing and is used for the purpose meant for, then the possibility of paying back should not be a challenge. But l cannot speak for the government in the sense that, we don't know if what we are told is exactly what the borrowed fund will be used for.
Personally, l have done business in the past, and l borrowed and paid back and it put my business in better position. We have seen instances where people borrow and that has been their end, because they did not do their work well. So borrowing is not the issue, but what do you borrow for and how do you want to pack back. The structure must be clear. If the intention is genuine and very clear, l don't see anything wrong but once it is the other way, l cannot be in support of that.
You said that your organisation pay tax promptly, how do you ensure that the tax you pay is used judiciously?
Well, our duty is to pay tax. It is the responsibility of every citizen to pay tax because it is the law. It is also the responsibility of the government to do what they have sworn to do as people in government. Where l play my part and government don't play theirs is very unfortunate. The only thing l can do to address it is through my vote.
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