Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, will formally launch the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020 on Wednesday, April 5.
A statement issued on Tuesday by the President’s spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, revealed that the ceremony will take place at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
The statement explained that the launch is “in furtherance of the current administration’s drive to sustain and build on the successes so far recorded in tackling corruption, improving security and revamping the economy.
The ERGP, which unveils a road map for Nigeria’s economic recovery, growth and sustainable development, was made public on March 7, while President Buhari was on his medical vacation in the United Kingdom.
The Media Adviser to the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Akpandem James, had said the ceremonial presentation will take place when the President returns from his vacation.
The Federal Government has released the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) which unveils a road map for Nigeria’s economic recovery, growth and sustainable development.
This was according to a statement issued on Tuesday by the Media Adviser to the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Akpandem James.
According to the statement, the development of the plan went through a rigorous process including wide consultation and robust engagements with stakeholders from a range of relevant fields.
They include: economic experts from the public and private sectors, academia, the Organised Private Sector, Civil Society groups, Organised Labour, sub-regional governments, International Development Partners (including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and African Development Bank), the National Economic Council (NEC) and the National Assembly.
The statement hinted that the Plan has been approved by the Federal Executive Council, adding that its ceremonial presentation would take place when President Muhammadu Buhari returns from vacation.
Achieving Structural Economic Change
The statement read: “The core vision of the Plan is one of sustained inclusive growth. There is an urgent need as a nation to drive structural economic transformation with an emphasis on improving both public and private sector efficiency.
“The aim is to increase national productivity and achieve sustainable diversification of production, to significantly grow the economy and achieve maximum welfare for the citizens, beginning with food and energy security.
“The Plan envisages that by 2020, Nigeria would have made significant progress towards achieving structural economic change with a more diversified and inclusive economy. Overall, the Plan is expected to deliver on Five key broad outcomes namely: a stable macroeconomic environment, agricultural transformation and food security, sufficiency in energy (power and petroleum products), improved transportation infrastructure and industrialisation focusing on small and medium scale enterprises.
“Realising that the country’s economy would remain on a path of decline if nothing was immediately done to change the trajectory, the present administration, when it assumed office, embarked on strategic moves to halt the trend and redirect the course of the country’s economy and growth process.
A Knowledge-Based Economy
“The process started with the development of the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) for the 2016 Budget of Change as a short-term intervention. The ERGP, a Medium Term Plan for 2017 – 2020, builds on the SIP and has been developed for the purpose of restoring economic growth while leveraging the ingenuity and resilience of the Nigerian people.
“The Plan seeks to eliminate the bottlenecks that impede innovations and market based solutions, recognises the need to leverage Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) to build a knowledge-based economy, and is consistent with the aspirations of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“The ERGP differs in several ways from previous strategies and plans as it:
is anchored on focused implementation which is at the core of the delivery strategy over the next four years;
outlines bold initiatives such as ramping up oil production to 2.5mbpd by 2020, privatising selected public enterprises/assets, and revamping local refineries to reduce petroleum product imports by 60 percent by 2018;
builds on existing sectoral plans such as the National Industrial Revolution Plan and the Nigeria Integrated Infrastructure Master-plan;
signals a changing relationship between the public and private sector based on close partnership.
utilises the value of the merger of budget and planning functions into one Ministry to create a better and stronger link between annual budgets and the ERGP; and
provides for strong coordination with the States to ensure that the Federal and sub-regional governments work towards the same goals.
Vision Of Inclusive Growth
“The thinking behind the development of the Plan was driven by several fundamental principles, including a focus on tackling constraints to growth; leveraging the power of the private sector and promoting national cohesion and social inclusion, as well as allowing markets to function.
“The Plan has three broad strategic objectives which are expected to help achieve the vision of inclusive growth: restoring growth, investing in the people, and building a globally competitive economy.
“The ERGP focuses on achieving macroeconomic stability and economic diversification by undertaking fiscal stimulus, ensuring monetary stability and improving the external balance of trade.
“The delivery mechanism has been identified as a major determining factor in the successful implementation of the Plan. The implementation strategy therefore focuses on prioritising the identified strategies, establishing a clear system of accountability for well-defined assignment of responsibilities, setting targets and developing detailed action plans, allocating resources to prioritised interventions, creating an enabling policy and regulatory environment, developing an effective monitoring and evaluation system to track progress, and using effective communication strategies”.
The Federal Government has distanced itself from reports indicating that it is planning to raise about five trillion Naira from the sale of assets in the next four years.
The government made the declaration on Tuesday in a statement issued by the Media Adviser to the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Akpandem James.
Mr James noted that some publications had claimed that the projected amount was contained in the Economy Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) being finalised by the Federal Government.
He, however, stated that there was no recommendation to raise such amount of revenue from the sale of assets.
“It has become necessary to state that the ERGP that is being finalised and which will soon be presented to the public, has no recommendation for raising that amount of revenue from sale of assets.
“To achieve the strategic objectives of the plan, 60 strategies have been developed for implementation with four key execution priorities: stabilisation of the macroeconomic environment, agriculture and food security, sufficiency in energy (power and petroleum products) and industrialisation focusing on Small and Medium Scale Enterprises,” the statement said.
Nigeria’s Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, has said that the primary objective of government’s fiscal stimulus plan is not to sell off all major critical national assets but to source immediate funds to reflate the economy and implement capital projects in the 2016 budget.
Senator Udoma gave the explanation in Lagos at the weekend while briefing reporters on the forthcoming Nigerian Economic Summit.
He said the intention of the government was just to get enough money to fund the 2016 budget and get the economy back on the path of recovery.
Government, he stated, needed to inject a large dose of funds into the system to get the economy back on track and to faithfully implement the provisions in the capital budget tailored at reflating the economy and aiding the diversification process.
Senator Udoma further explained that the country had lost almost half its expected revenue and would need to urgently source for the shortfall to enable the government faithfully implement the budget.
“This unfortunate scenario prompted the Economic Management Team to urgently work out a fiscal stimulus plan to generate immediate large injection of funds into the economy through asset sales, advance payment for license rounds, infrastructure concessioning, use of recovered funds, among others, to reduce the funding gap.
“The other option would have been to source for additional loans, beyond the level of borrowing already projected for in the 2016 Budget.
“This would not be a wise option as it would raise the level of debt service to an unsustainable level.” a statement by the Minister’s spokesman, Akpandem James, read.
“Spend Our Way Out Of Recession”
Senator Udoma explained, however, that the government was exploring several angles in the asset sales proposal including repurchase options, which would make provision for buy-back of those assets when the situation improves.
The Minister insisted that the country’s economy may not have gone into recession but for the drastic fall in oil production levels due to disruptions caused by militant activities.
“At worst, it would have been a flat performance that would have sign-posted a new curve in the economy trajectory that would subsequently put it on the path to recovery and sustainable growth,” he pointed out.
Senator Udoma went on to say that the Government appreciated that the down-turn in the economy had brought hardship to the people, but he assured Nigerians that the government was committed to redressing the situation.
“Our goal is to unlock the economic potentials of the non-oil and high-employment sectors, so as to achieve a sustainable inclusive growth that will ensure that the majority of Nigerians become more productive, thereby reducing poverty.
“Thus, we are deliberately working towards diversifying the Nigerian economy by ensuring that the non-oil sector drives the economy because this is the sector that contributes the most to GDP; and has more capacity to employ,” he further explained.
The basic strategy, he pointed out, was to reflate the economy through fiscal stimulus and strategic implementation of annual budgets.
“What this means is that we are geared to strategically spend our way out of recession.
“Unfortunately, we have not met all our planned expenditures for 2016 due to low revenue outturns.
“However, we have ensured that the resources that we release are targeted at priorities that will stimulate activities in the economy.
“We are also developing a more robust monitoring and evaluation framework to track performance,” he stated.
Getting Back The Economy
Senator Udoma highlighted that the current situation, bad as it is, had provided Nigeria with an opportunity to revamp the economy and put it on the path to sustainable growth; but in doing so, Nigerians must reduce their demand for foreign products, focus attention on refining petroleum products locally, return to agriculture, develop the solid minerals’ sector and stay the course even if the price of oil goes up again.
The Minister believes that getting back the economy on the path of sustainable growth will require the contribution of every sector in their respective core mandate areas, and collaboration with organs like the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) provides a veritable avenue for forging consensus on issues of national development whilst evolving a common strategy and policy framework for addressing issues constraining development.
This year’s edition of the Economic Summit, which holds between October 10 and 12, is designed to encourage more production and consumption of Made in Nigeria goods and services.
It is believed that “with more patronage, Nigerian producers will be encouraged to improve the quality of their products. As the quality of Nigerian-made goods and services improve, international demand for them will increase.
“The fastest route to grow the economy and to create jobs for the teeming population is by pursuing export led growth. Export led growth will add to the country’s foreign reserves and stabilize the Naira”.
The Minister pointed out that past Nigerian Economic Summits made recommendations on self-sufficiency in local production and an export-driven economy.
With current economic realities, this is the perfect opportunity to articulate a national discussion on “Made in Nigeria” to promote the goods and services that are already up to standards for consumption, encourage exports and increase opportunities for SMEs.
According to him, “this year’s Summit will provide a platform to sharpen the focus of the conversation.
The key thrust would be to facilitate stakeholders’ discussions/agreements on the practical issues, opportunities, policies and regulations needed for “Made in Nigeria” to become an economic growth and development destination.
“It will also seek to articulate the strategies to achieve self-sufficiency and value-addition capacities for several products and services in the shortest possible time.
“The sub-themes of the Summit shall deliberate on the macroeconomic environment; ease of doing business; stakeholders’ behaviour and attitudes; access to finance; infrastructure; quality and standards; technology and innovation; as well as job creation, skills and youth employment,” he added.
The key outcomes of the Summit, he noted, “are expected to include the development of practical roadmap that will contextualise “Made in Nigeria” as an economic growth and development strategy for our short, medium and long term development partnerships and policies to deliver desired results and potentials for exports to increase foreign exchange earnings and shore up our reserves.
“The Summit will also emphasise the strong need for execution and proper measurement of results on the part of all stakeholders”.
The National Conference Secretariat has debunked claims that the Federal Government has extended the duration of National Conference by six weeks, describing the information as “not only misleading but untrue in fact’’.
“If there is need for an extension, a request for that would emanate from the Conference Secretariat to the Presidency, and as at the time of issuing this statement no such request has been made to the Presidency and the Secretariat is not aware of any formal extension of the conference duration by the Federal Government, as reported in some sections of the media” a statement by the Assistant Secretary, Media and Communications of the Secretariat, Akpandem James said.
The statement however noted that the some committee chairmen “complained of the shortness of time for committee work, citing the heavy workload and relevant assistance they would require from external sources to do a thorough job” adding that “it was then agreed that one extra week should be added to enable the committees tidy up their activities and present meaningful reports”.
“However, since the following week beginning from Monday May 5 to Thursday May 8 (sitting days), will see Abuja hosting the World Economic Forum, and because some delegates to, and facilities used for the National Conference will be involved and engaged respectively for the Economic Forum, the week following from Monday May 12 to Thursday May 15 was consequently approved for the extension, for conclusion of committee work” it noted.
“As a follow-up to that agreement, the Conference Secretary, Dr (Mrs) Valerie-Janette Azinge, formally communicated the decision to all Committee chairmen on Wednesday, April 30. It was clearly entitled “EXTENSION OF TIME FOR COMMITTEE WORK”.
The full text of the letter reads:
“Please recall that the meeting of the Chairman of the National Conference and Principal Officers with the Chairmen/Co-Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen of various committees agreed that the time allotted for Committee Work in the Work Plan was inadequate. The meeting also took consideration of the adjournment during the May Day and World Economic Forum events which requires the active participation of some delegates.
“As a result, I hereby convey to you the decision to extend the time allotted to the Committee Work as reflected in the attached revised Work Plan.
Kindly ensure that you conclude the work of your Committee during this allotted period. Thank you.”
During the Monday meeting, “the Committee leaders also expressed concern over the time allotted for the Drafting of Conference Report and noted that it was too short and may not allow for effective and thorough job. A suggestion of four weeks (of four working days each) was proposed. The Conference leadership pointed out that if that is done, it would mean an extension of the Conference duration, which the Secretariat lacks the authority to do”.
Accompanying the letter to the Chairmen, on Wednesday, was a tentative Work Plan which was to explain the possible scenario should the proposal to use four weeks for drafting of the Conference Report be adopted. It was an internal document to guide Committee Chairmen in their work, and not a notice of extension of the duration of the Conference.
“It must be emphasised that the Conference Secretariat lacks the power to extend the Conference duration and has made that position very clear at every point the issue is raised.
The Conference Chairman, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi CFR, had similarly told the Committee leadership on Monday that if it “becomes absolutely necessary to have an extension of time, a formal request would be made to the relevant authorities, and the Secretariat will only act when express approval is granted”.
“It is rather unfortunate that in spite of the availability of this information, which was further made clear to journalists who sought clarification on this matter on Wednesday, most of them still went ahead to rely on information they got from delegates who were not well informed on the matter, and who themselves are neither chairmen nor deputy chairmen of Committees; and who were neither part of the Monday meeting with the Conference leadership nor were directly notified of the extension of time for Committee Work”.