The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says Public-Private-Partnership is one of the most viable ways to revive the tourism sector in Nigeria.
Mohammed stated this while briefing newsmen shortly after defending the sector’s budget before the Senate Committee on Tourism on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said that efforts were being made by the present administration in that direction, adding that there was remarkable improvement in the sector’s activities.
“Anybody who has been observing what is happening in the creative industry, including culture, film industry, fashion, will see that there is remarkable transformation and that is because government has provided the enabling environment.
“The creative industry is on a tripod – the government, the private sector and the practitioners – and, what government has done is to give the support that the industry needs to grow.
“For instance, sometime this year, the Federal Government included the film industry in the list of industries that will enjoy pioneer status.
“What this means is that if you invest in this industry with a certain amount of money, you will be entitled to tax holiday for three years at the initial stage and another two years.
“In addition, dividends from your businesses will be exempted from taxation. This is one of the incentives government has given,’’ he said.
The minister further said that meetings had been held with relevant stakeholders in ensuring that they contributed their quota to the development of the sector.
“At the creative industry financing summit held recently, we met with the Inspector-General of Police to express our concern at the rate of piracy.
“He immediately set up an anti-piracy unit in each command of the federation.
“We also met the Central Bank Governor asking for an intervention fund to the tune of 100 million dollars to enable people in the industry to invest in infrastructure.
“Also, as I speak to you, we are talking to NEXIM Bank; we are equally talking to some investors, who are ready to bring in 20 million dollars.
“This is to enable the industries, especially the film industry to have cinema houses all over the country. So, what is important is enabling environment,’’ he said.
Mohammed listed part of the present government’s achievements to include revival of the Presidential Council on Tourism, headed by the President, with ministers as members.
He said that there was an improvement in visa regime, adding that the current `visa on arrival programme’ was working very well.
He added that President Muhammadu Buhari was spearheading a programme where Africans would not need visa to visit other African countries.
The minister said that once the move was accomplished and visa regime was liberalised, tourists would be encouraged to visit African countries.
On poor budget releases, he said that the Federal Government was working toward improving releases to Ministries, Agencies and Departments (MDAs).
He pointed out that, with the country coming out of recession and improvement in price of crude oil, among other indices, there would be improvement in the releases.
Mohammed said “it is not that government is deliberately withholding releases or starving us, it is because we don’t have enough.
“When budgets are made, they are made based on certain assumptions and if you are not able to get enough to meet your assumptions, there will be poor release.
“Although there is improvement in different sectors like the Nigeria Customs Service, and the price of crude oil is getting better. There is also more peace in the Niger Delta; so, we can produce more.’’
He assured that as the economy continued to improve, government would make more releases.
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