The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its Article IV report on Nigeria released last recently said it will support the federal government’s ongoing efforts at promoting targeted and core infrastructure in the areas of power, integrated transport network and housing.
It also gave it nod to government’s effort at reducing business costs through greater transparency and accountability, and applauds plans for massive employment of the youth and female populations.
This is cheering news coming at a time when virtually every report on Nigeria is negative.
It is also pertinent to observe that adequate funding of infrastructure will help to boost economic activities and create jobs for the Nigerian youth.
Lack of funding in the recent past had caused many construction companies to retrench their workers due to the huge debts owed them by the various tiers of government.
With enhanced budgetary allocations in the 2016 budget, housing, power and works ministries have enormous roles to play in re-positioning the economy and creating jobs.
Certainly, good roads will help grow the national economy, reduce travel time, cost of transportation of goods and services, and restore jobs that have been lost to transport-dependent services.
The Minister of Works, Housing and Power, Mr. Babatunde Fashola had in his maiden press briefing last year observed that some of the numbers from only four construction companies that were sampled suggested that at least 5,150 workers have been laid off as at March 11, 2015.
He said If each contractor has only 100 employees at each of the 200 contract sites, it means at least that 20,000 people who lost their jobs can return to work if contractors get paid.
The possibility of returning those who have just lost their jobs to work is the kind of change that Nigerians expect to see from this government.
We agree with the submission of the IMF team that in addition to the above, Nigeria adopting a sound petroleum industry bill and applying the Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism framework will help to strengthen the regulatory environment for the oil sector.
It is equally important that the federal government yields to the call for emphasis at doing “more with less” to improve the efficiency of public sector service delivery and create an enabling environment to attract investment in the implementation of the 2016 budget.
Going by the level of macroeconomic adjustment that is needed to address the persistent terms-of-trade shock, the government in the 2016 budget implementation must emphasise structural reforms that will enhance growth.
This way, we could improve on the envisaged 3.2 per cent growth in 2016 to 4.9 per cent. Focusing strongly on prioritised infrastructure investment is the way forward for the economy.