By: Ignatius Okorocha
The Senate on Wednesday at plenary mandated its committee on Trade and Investment to investigate the seemingly domination of the nation’s indigenous retail businesses by foreign businessmen.
This is as the Upper chamber has 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 organized sector.
These resolutions of the Senate 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 Red chamber 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 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 Ministry of Trade and investment and other relevant stakeholder with a view to receive 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 week.
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 said the Chinese,Indians and Lebanese companies have 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 have shifted from production and wholesaling to retailing.
He observed that 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 have policy and legislative measures in place to offer minimum protection to indigenous retail traders .
He, however, said in Nigeria, extant policies and legal frameworks at both national and sub-regional levels do not offer any minimum protection to indigenous retail business operators.
He said the implication was that the organised retail business in Nigeria made up of multiple branch supermarkets,shopping malls was dominated by foreigners through their popular retail outlets.
He expressed concern that if measures were not taken via enactment of extant protective laws and policies, foreigners may continue to dominate the sector.
Senate is its further resolutions on the motion called on governments at all levels to put in place acceptable measures to protect traditional or open market retailers to avoid contravention of environmental and health safety standards.
Seconding the motion, Sen. Francis Fadahunsi(Osun East) while congratulating the sponsor of the motion, frowned at the domination of the nation’s retail markets by foreign investors saying that government has to take steps to check such anomaly.
Fielding questions from journalists on why most of his motions hinge on the economy, Sen. Ubah said that coming from the business sector, he has to protect the interest of investors in the nation’s trade and industry.
This he said is in addition to working for the welfare of his constituents on his mandate he is in the upper chamber.