The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo has assured Nigerians and the international community that the foreign exchange market of the nation will soon stabilize, as a result of radical policies already introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The Vice President gave the assurance on the third day of the 15th Joint Planning Board and National Council on Development Planning meeting held in Kano state, north western Nigeria.
He said the more flexible exchange rate regime was introduced to decrease the pressure on the nation’s external reserve.
‘’In the short run, of course, there should be consequences for inflation. We expect that with greater priority, and what we have seen in the implementation of the policy by the CBN, the foreign exchange market will stabilize and confidence will be restored,” stressed the Vice President.
Osinbajo also said that the Federal Government had so far saved N1.4 trillion as proceeds on oil subsidy payments as a result of the deregulation of the downstream sector.
‘’With the deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector, there has been a significant increase in the availability of petrol throughout the country and for embarking on this policy, the nation has made savings of N1.4 trillion on subsidy payments alone, ‘’ Prof Osinbajo explained.
He urged Nigerians to restore confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, insisting that the current economic challenges would soon become a thing of the past.
He also explained that Nigeria’s adoption of Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, in September 2015, was intended to place the nation on the path of sustainable development by the year 2030.
The VP stated that the 17 SDGs, which combined economic, social and environmental objectives were intended to be universal, unlike the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were made solely for developing countries.
“In the Nigerian context, some of the issues that must engage our minds will lead to economic diversification; sustain economic growth; eradication of extreme poverty; promoting social inclusion; creating jobs; tackling environmental degradation, including climate change,’’ he said.
He said the strategic plan meeting was apt because evidence from across the globe had shown that national strategic planning was very critical for attaining structural transformation and sustainable development.
The VP stressed that countries of East Asia had proved this convincingly, even though their development was private-sector driven.
“Strategic plans largely provide direction, coherence and coordination and they are a veritable framework for guiding the activities of all stakeholders towards achieving a common goal. Planning specifics such as goals, target and indicators which embody the SDGs, also enable tracking, monitoring and evaluation,’’ emphasized Osibanjo
According to him, as the Federal Government was seeking international partnerships on rules and resources for development. Local contacts are also being sought after.
‘’Such domestic partnerships entail working closely with the states, which is one of the main reasons for the establishment of the NCPP. Other essential partnerships are also built with other sectors of society, especially, the private sector, which is the indisputable engine for growth in successful economies. ‘’
He said the Federal government had agreed to use the short term strategic implementation plan to guide the 2016 budget as recently approved by the Federal Executive Council.
He said the council also approved the medium plan expenditure framework and the fiscal strategy paper which are fully consistent with the SDGs and the African union’s agenda 2063.
He added that the strategies will focus on the areas of tackling insecurity, combating corruption and growing the economy which would undoubtedly find expression in any medium term plan.
Earlier, Minister of Budget and Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma , noted that the nation’s economic challenges were rooted in the over reliance on a single commodity, crude oil. Falling oil prices have led to a reduction in revenue.
According to him, the federal government developed the 2016 ” Budget of Change ” to include macro-economic policies that are designed to re-flate the economy by investing in key infrastructure and social development .
”We have also launched a Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) for the effective implementation of the budget. Broadly speaking , the SIP focuses on key six areas. These are based on governance, transparency and security, economic diversification into agriculture, industrialization, solid minerals, entertainment and tourism,” the Minister said.
He said government had issued directives to the Bank of Agriculture to lend at single digit interest rates to farmers, to ease their burden of borrowing for investment in the sector.
The minister said government would continue to introduce additional measures aimed at providing sufficient fiscal stimulation to move out of the recession and back on the path of sustainable growth. “We are determined to achieve this and confident that we will.’’
He, however said the federal government needed to work closely with the state government, as well as the private sector, especially, on agriculture which is a major thrust of nation’s economic diversification.
‘’States may wish to target certain crops and become national champions in those ones just as Kebbi state is doing with rice,’’ suggested the Minister.
He noted that access to land for agriculture was critical for the rapid expansion of agriculture and that state governments needed to work on quickening the processes for registration of land, to ease the process of land acquisition.