Buhari To Address National Economic Council

Muhammadu-Buhari-President-of-NigeriaPresident Muhammadu Buhari is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at a two-day retreat, organised by the National Economic Council (NEC) which will begin from Monday, March 21.

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, will chair the retreat, with governors from the 36 states of the federation attending.

The Central Bank Governor and the Budget & Planning Minister are also among other top government functionaries that would be present at that meeting.

A spokesman for the Vice President, Laolu Akande, said that the objective of the National Economic Council Retreat was to provide a forum for in-depth discussions by NEC members of the policy actions that the States and the Federal Government could consider in order to stimulate local production, cut costs and enhance public revenues among other measures to stimulate the economy.

Contrary to suggestions, the Retreat is not an emergency national economic conference.

The idea was mooted at the last regular NEC meeting in January, where members requested an intensive session to review economic trends and evolve strategies to cope.

Nigeria’s economy at this time needs stimulation, something the Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, said the budget, yet to be passed by the National Assembly, would do.

No Intention To Devalue Naira – CBN Governor

NairaThe Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele has stated that there was no intention by the federal government to further devalue the naira.

Addressing State House correspondents, Mr Emefiele said that the apex bank was rather concentrating on how to improve and deepen the foreign exchange market by improving supply of foreign exchange into the market.

He added that the CBN is also concentrating on how to reduce the import of items that could be produced locally.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has also said that devaluation of the naira is not an appropriate option in the current economic realities in the country as it is not healthy for the Nigerian economy.

The Vice President, while receiving the Italian Ambassador in Nigeria, Mr. Fulvio Rustico and the Canadian High Commissioner in Nigeria Mr Perry John Calderwood in his office on Thursday shared similar views as the CBN Governor.

In his reckoning, FDI is more forward looking than portfolio investments which is being affected by the decision to manage the foreign exchange resources of the country.

“I am not sure devaluation is the issue, but how to ensure foreign direct investment which is more useful,” the Vice President noted, adding that he expects a bit more stability and direction in the next few months.

He disclosed that the Federal Government would work with the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure that legitimate businesses are not badly impacted by the current foreign exchange restrictions, especially those who have previous contracts and loan commitments.

Osinbajo Explains Why Presidency Opposes Naira Devaluation

NairaThe Nigerian Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has given reasons for the government’s disapproval of further devaluation of the nation’s currency, saying it is not an appropriate option in the current economic realities and offers no solutions as far as the Buhari administration is concerned.

President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier expressed his views that a further devaluation of the Nigerian Naira was not healthy for the economy.

At a meeting on Thursday with the Italian Ambassador in Nigeria, Mr Fulvio Rustico and the Canadian High Commissioner in Nigeria, Mr Perry John Calderwood, in his office in Abuja, Vice President Osinbajo emphasised President Buhari’s views and said he would also not support further devaluation of the Naira.

He said: “I don’t agree on devaluation of the Naira and it is not that I am doctrinaire about it. In the first place, it is not a solution. We are not exporting significantly. And the way things are, devaluation will not help the local economy.”

“What we need to do is to start spending more on the economy and then things will ease up a bit”.

He observed that the issues around the economy were no exact sciences, stressing that “what is important is to be reasonably flexible in dealing with them”.

To Bring Some Stability

In a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant-Media & Publicity, Laolu Akande, the Vice President outlined the Federal Government’s plans to set-up a $25 billion Infrastructural Fund which would be sourced from local and international sources, through Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund and the pension fund among others.

He disclosed that already, other Sovereign Wealth Funds had indicated interest in the fund which would be used to address the nation’s decaying road, rail and power infrastructures.

“This is our approach to speeding up the country’s infrastructural development.

Osinbajo on Nigerian Naira
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo totally opposes further devaluation of the Nigerian Naira

“The current foreign exchange restriction is a temporary measure to ensure that “we don’t deplete our foreign exchange substantially at a time when the prices of oil in the international market is dropping,” Professor Osinbajo restated.

According to him, the restriction was put in place to bring some stability to the oil-rich nation’s foreign reserves without which Foreign Direct Investment, (FDI) might be affected.

“The FDI is more forward looking than portfolio investments which are being affected by the decision to manage the foreign exchange resources of the country at this time.

“I am not sure devaluation is the issue, but how to ensure foreign direct investment which is more useful,” the Vice President noted, emphasising that he expects a bit more stability and direction in the next few months.

He further said that the Federal Government would work with the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure that legitimate businesses were not badly impacted by the current foreign exchange restrictions, especially those who had previous contracts and loan commitments.

Professor Osinbajo expressed the appreciation of the Federal Government to the Italian and Canadian envoys on behalf of President Buhari and also looked forward to closer and deeper ties between Nigeria and the two countries.