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Senate probes dominance of indigenous businesses by foreigners

The Senate has mandated its Committee on Trade and Investment to investigate the obvious domination of the nation’s indigenous retail businesses by foreign businessmen. The Red Chamber also resolved to review the Indigenization Act and other extant policy and legal framework with a view to providing incentives/ protection to indigenous retail business investors in the country’s organised sector.

The resolutions followed a motion by Senator Ifeanyi Ubah (YPP, Anambra South) on the, “urgent need to investigate the economic and security implication of an unregulated Nigerian retail sector and consider appropriate legislative measures to incentivize and protect indigenous retail traders.”

The Senate also called on governments at all levels to put in place acceptable measures to protect traditional or open markets retailers to avoid contravention of environmental and health safety standards, promote revenue collection and prevent harassment and constant disruption of retail trade activities by government revenue collectors or environmental and health enforcement officers.

It further mandated its Committee on Trade and Investment to engage the Ministry of Trade and Investment and other relevant stakeholders with a view to receiving briefing on the extant policy and legal framework on retail trade in Nigeria and the protection offered to indigenous retail investors and report back within two weeks. The Senate also asked the committee to engage local retailers on ways to further protect their interests as well as invite foreign retailers to ascertain their legal status. Ubah, in his lead debate, noted that Nigerian retail sector remains unregulated with dire economic and security implications.

He observed that the Chinese, Indians and Lebanese companies had taken over the retail business from indigenous retailers in markets like Balogun, Trade Fair, ASPAMDA, Alaba, Coker, Computer Village, Dei-Dei Market, among others. He said the foreign investors had shifted from production and wholesaling to retailing, saying since Independence, Nigerian retail business had been offering employment to Nigerians and providing revenue to government via taxes. He said many African countries, including ECOWAS member states, such as Ghana, had policy and legislative measures in place to offer minimum protection to indigenous retail traders. Fielding questions from journalists on why most of his motions hinged on the economy, Ubah said that coming from the business sector; he had to protect the interest of investors in the nation’s trade and industry.

 

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