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Trade Minister Demands More Role For Women In Public Procurement Contract

Ebuka Daniel

The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum on Saturday said there was need for Nigeria to domesticate the Buenos Aires Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment to increase the participation of women entrepreneurs in public procurement.

Katagum who disclosed this in Abuja at the end of the The Nigeria @ 60 Exhibition programme, also stated that this move would dismantle the barriers on women’s economic empowerment and increase their participation in trade.

She said, “Nigeria as a country needs to domesticate the Buenos Aires Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment (2017), wherein members of the WTO agreed to collaborate in making trade and development policies more gender responsive and specifically to remove barriers on women’s economic empowerment and increase their participation in trade.

“The Declaration, amongst others, also calls for the enhancement of women entrepreneurs’ participation in public procurement.”

While stressing the importance of Nigerian women to its economic growth, the minister noted that although several initiatives to enhance the economic inclusion of women are ongoing, more needs to be done to in this regard.

Besides domesticating the Declaration, Katagum called on relevant stakeholders to improve the access of women to education and financial services, enforce gender mandated regulations and tackle other critical issues affecting the participation of women in the economy.

“As previously mentioned, education is a key driver in economic empowerment. Both men and women, especially in rural areas need to be provided with equal access to education and financial services to help improve their ability to compete in an emerging market like Nigeria.

 “We also need to widen access to credit, at single and reduce the various bottlenecks in terms of paper work and documentation required.

“Globally, gender-mandated regulations have emerged as an effort to help promote the economic empowerment of women in many sectors.

“For example, in Nigeria, the CBN has set a regulation for the banking industry for every Board of Directors to be constituted of at least 30% women. Currently, there are no enforcement mechanisms in place and as a result, compliance is low with only 30% of banks adhering to the mandate.

“Mandates need to be effectively enforced to ensure women benefit from efforts focused on empowering them.”

She also emphasized the federal government’s commitment to ensuring equal opportunities in all spheres of life, providing women-focused healthcare services and ending all forms of violence against women and girls.

In her remarks, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed urged Nigerians to take advantage of the post COVID-19 programmes introduced by the FG to ensure the sustainable recovery of the country’s economy.

She said, “We are also focusing on concentric diversification strategies especially in agriculture that can deliver sustained, job intensive and inclusive growth.

“This requires production and export of range of products for overseas markets to earn foreign exchange by unlocking agriculture value chain. Agricultural value chain include development and dissemination of plant and animal genetic material, input supply, farmer organization, farm production, post-harvest handling, processing, provision of technologies of production and handling, grading criteria and facilities, cooling and packing technologies, post-harvest local processing, industrial processing, storage, transport, finance, and feedback from markets.

“As a matter of deliberate government policy, the current Administration has taken several steps to increase our non-oil revenue generation. These steps include but not limited to VAT reforms in the Finance Act 2020 (maintaining the increase in VAT rate to 7.5%), Customs Administration Enhancement, Tax incentives and exemptions, increased remittances and recovery of unremitted revenues from GOEs, increased revenues from cross-border business transactions, unlocking value from FG assets that are lying idle or under-utilised, etc. 

“The aforementioned steps have helped to restructure our economy from being described as a mono-economy, depending on oil only to one that is relatively diversified. 

“The ratio of non-oil to oil revenue is 55% to 45%. We have ensured a steady movement from 33 Sectors to 44 Sectors presently. Furthermore, the Agricultural sector now accounts for 25.08% of our nation’s GDP, the Trade sector is 16.86% of our GDP and the Real Estate sector 6.85%. 

“These Sectors now dominate Nigeria’s economy. There was also a significant growth in Financial Services, Communications, and Entertainment sectors. The Oil and Gas industry’s contribution to the economy is approximately 8.86%.”

In realization of the need to grow the economy on an inclusive growth and sustainable economic development trajectory, she said the Ministry of finance has initiated the process for the preparation of a Medium Term National Development Plan 2021 – 2025 to guide Government policies, programmes and projects as well as private sector operations from now to 2025 while this would be inspired by Nigeria Agenda 2050 which encapsulates our long term vision for Nigeria.

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