At a press conference addressed jointly by the delegation leaders to the just concluded IMF/World Bank Group meetings in Washington DC on Sunday, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, explained that the meetings presented an opportunity to share with potential investors, and development partners, President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision for an even faster growth for Nigeria in his second term, having just won re-election.
This he plans to achieve by intensifying and consolidating on the implementation of the policies and programmes of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan – the ERGP.
The delegation comprised the Finance Minister, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed; the Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele; and the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma.
At the briefing Senator Udoma said that Nigeria stands to benefit from the interface of the country’s delegation in Washington DC as the responses from all the delegation’s engagements with the global business community have been positive and encouraging.
Among others, the Minister participated in the presentation by the IMF of the Regional Economic Outlook (REO) for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), State of the African Region, Annual Ministerial Roundtable on Social Safety Nets, a business session with some members of the US Business Community, meetings with credit and rating agencies, a meeting with officials of the International Financial Corporation (IFC), and a coalition of civil society groups, amongst others.
He said the delegation has noted the indication by the REO for Sub-Saharan Africa and the advice by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), that while economic recovery in the sub-region is expected to continue, from 3.0% GDP growth in 2018 to 3.5% in 2019 and 3.7% in 2020, more should be done to shield the recovery against risks arising from both domestic and external shocks.
At the State of the African Region, the Minister said discussions centred on the role of regional cooperation in tackling fragility in Africa. “A major takeaway was the need to pay attention to women empowerment and education of the girl child, as these have positive implications in dealing with fragility and reducing conflicts. As you know, investing in our people and the issue of girl-child education are some of the objectives of the ERGP.”
Also at the Annual Ministerial Roundtable on Social Safety Nets, Senator Udoma said discussions centred on how to improve economic opportunities and human capital, as well as social safety nets. “Here, as you know, Nigeria has a good story to tell with our annual commitment of N500 billion for our social investment programme, including our N-Power Programme, the School Feeding Programme, the Cash Transfer Programme and the Government Enterprise & Empowerment Programme (GEEP).”
Summarising his presentation to the business community at an investor lunch organised by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), he said: “I let them know that Nigeria is set for faster growth with the re-election of Mr President; and that in his second term the President will continue with his commitment to his three-pronged programme on the basis of which he campaigned, namely: improving security, fighting corruption and reviving and growing the economy.
“With regard to the economy, I informed them that the President intends to fast track the implementation of the investor friendly policies of the ERGP, so as to generate even faster growth. In particular, I informed them that the President has set up a committee, headed by the Vice President, to produce an implementation guideline for the incoming cabinet. All three of us here i.e. the Minister of Finance, the Governor of the CBN, and myself, are members of this Committee.”
He also said that in all his presentations, he had indicated that the fundamentals of the Nigerian economy are strong and major indices are picking up including growth, foreign reserves, and exchange rate; while inflation is declining. He pointed out that all these are evidence of even greater prospects in 2019, and over the medium term.
“I also spoke about our reforms in improving the business climate, the various incentives and opportunities for investment in Nigeria which are set out in the compendium of investment incentives published by the NIPC and FIRS, amongst others”, he added.
Udoma disclosed that in the course of his meeting with officials of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), he asked for their support for government’s efforts to leverage private sector capital to fund critical infrastructure in Nigeria; as Nigeria requires private sector capital to bridge the country’s infrastructure gap, a necessity for achieving the objectives of the ERGP.
The Finance Minister, Mrs Ahmed, who was the leader of the Nigerian delegation, spoke of her various meetings with relevant IMF and World Bank organs, Central Bank Governors, credit and rating agencies, among others.
She pointed out that in her capacity as the representative of 23 African countries, she addressed the IMFC and issued a statement calling for normalization of trade relations among the contending parties as well as called for concerted efforts to support multilaterism and avoid protectionist sentiments.
Mrs Ahmed said she was encouraged by the prospects of the resolutions at the various meetings which signposts a better economic future for Nigeria and Africa.
The Central Bank Governor, Mr Emefiele also gave a summary of his engagements with the business community and the relevant organs of the World Bank Group as well as fellow Central Bank governors where they discussed and took decisions on global monetary issues and the potentials of the Nigerian economy.
In response to a question on the preparedness of the Nigeria to absorb the fallouts of BREXIT, deal or no deal, Mr Emefiele said given the trade position between the United Kingdom and Nigeria, he is not anticipating any significant effect on the Nigerian economy, deal or no deal.
Special Adviser (Media & Communication) to the Hon, Minister