Government engages private sector to diversify economy

Timothy Choji, Abuja

Some ministers at the business forum

Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo says the private sector is crucial to the economic development of the country.

He added that the government would engage more with private investors, to move the nation out of recession.

Professor Osinbajo stated this at the opening of the maiden Presidential Business Forum organized by Nigeria’s Economic Management Team.

He said the Presidential Business Forum was organized as part of government’s plan to address current economic challenges.

The Vice President, who heads the Economic management Team, blamed pipeline vandals for the recession the country is passing through, which he described as peculiar, adding that the issue has been generalised by commentators.

“The private sector is crucial for us. No question about that at all. I think the point really is that a lot depends on what sort of recession we are into and how we got there. In our case it’s obviously unfortunate. If we did not have the incidents of pipeline vandalism in the Niger-Delta, we probably would not have entered into negativity. No country can face a reduction of over a million barrels per day production of oil and still remain the same,” he said.pic-7-business-forumters

The Vice President said government was committed to the implementation of all its policies on economic diversification. He added that problems of the power sector would be addressed.

“We have to address the medium and long term issues, which are very important structural issues. We must improve our power supply and also the manufacturing sector too, which has a lot to do with power. We must boost power supply,” the Vice President noted.

Fiscal Stimulus

Speaking earlier, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma said the Economic Management Team was working hard to quickly move the country out of recession through what he called major fiscal stimulus.

“Nigeria’s economy has been greatly influenced by the fall in the price of oil. We are in recession today because we over depended on oil but we have recently had an improvement in the agric and solid minerals sectors. We will try to get out of recession quickly, through major fiscal stimulus. We will inject more money into the economy especially foreign currency, in order to shore up the naira and also gain the confidence of investors,” Udoma stated.

He said the fund injection would be supported by major structural transformation; as he corroborated the Vice President’s stand the private sector, calling it the engine of growth.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun said N420 billion had so far been injected into the Nigerian economy, to aid its recovery. She said another N350 billion would be injected this week all in a bid to improve the economy.

The Finance Minister, who was optimistic that the country would get out of recession, said government spending in the past, was unproductive but the Muhammadu Buari administration was determined to change that.

“If you look at our GDP growth from 2005-2015, it was actually on a negative trend. We were borrowing and our GDP was not growing. So what really happened was that government spending was largely unproductive. It was not growing the economy and so we have to change that way of spending,” she explained.

The Minister said government intends to increase its non oil revenue and money for capital to stimulate the economy through industrialization.

“So far we have released N420 billon into the economy between May when the budget was passed and today. We will release another N350 billion this week and we have another 350 billion which we will release in November. The money so far released was spent on a lot of works in defence, transport, Interior, power and agriculture,” the Finance Minister said.

Ease of Business

Also speaking, her counterpart, the Minister of State for industry, trade and investment, Mrs Aisha Abubakar said Nigeria was carefully following the examples of Georgia, Rwanda and Kenya, as it diversifies.

“In trying to improve our own ranking of doing business, we have looked at other countries that have been able to do this turn around. Under Georgia, we are looking at how to improve government services, from Rwanda; we are looking at construction permits as well as improving property tax, from Kenya we are looking at ways of regulating electricity. These are very key for us because they all have to do with streamlining our tax procedures,” she said.

She said the country hopes to improve on its global ranking for ease of doing business and hopes to improve on that in the next three years.

The maiden Presidential Business Forum, which is expected to hold every quarter, was attended by some Ministers and chief executives of different private organizations.