Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, on Thursday reiterated Federal Government’s commitment to the implementation of the various strategies set out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), to address the five execution priorities of Macroeconomic Stabilization, Agriculture and Food Security, Transportation, Energy and Industrialization.
Senator Udoma who was addressing the Joint Planning Board/National Council on Development Planning (JPB/NCDP) meetings in Abeokuta, Ogun State, said with the faithful implementation of the Plan government will be able to deliver a resilient and more prosperous economy where ‘we grow what we eat and consume what we make’.
He noted that though the Plan was hailed within and outside the country as well designed to address the fundamental economic challenges of the country, there were some concerns expressed about implementation, given our past failures as a country to effectively implement previous plans. He assured that the Buhari Administration is determined to properly implement the Plan. Already Government is encouraged by the achievements recorded so far in the implementation of the ERGP.
Explaining that the ERGP was conceived as a comprehensive medium term plan to address the fundamental problems of the country and place the economy on the path of diversified, sustainable and inclusive growth, he stated that many innovations are being introduced to achieve faster results.
Pointing specifically to the success recorded through the ERGP Focus Labs, held early this year, in driving the objectives of the Plan in some key sectors of the economy, the Minister said more of such innovations will help to fast-track implementation of the Plan. He was hopeful that the JPB/NCDP meetings will generate new ideas that will help the Plan implementation.
The annual JPB/NCDP meetings is a platform for State Commissioners, Permanent Secretaries, and other relevant stakeholders to discuss with each other about the Nigerian economy and keep abreast of developments by hearing from development experts on topical economic issues. The theme for this year’s meeting is “Accelerating implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan: the role of stakeholders.”
He explained that the theme was chosen to focus attention on what can be done to accelerate the momentum of the current economic revival as there is a need to quicken the growth of the economy. He reminded the participants that the ERGP was a live and dynamic plan.
He was therefore optimistic that contributions at this year’s meetings will be useful for the mid-term review of the ERGP which the Ministry is currently undertaking.
The Minister said that he found it encouraging that the implementation of the ERGP was already yielding positive results. “Not only is Nigeria out of recession, the country is beginning to grow again particularly in the non-oil sector. The latest NBS numbers revealed that the Non-Oil sector grew by 2.05% in Q2, 2018. Other economic indices are also improving. Inflation rate has shown consistent decline since December 2016, declining from 18.55% at that time to 11.14% in July 2018.”
He also pointed to the fact that the external reserves have nearly doubled since September 2016, from $23.81 billion to $46.37 billion by mid-August, 2018; Exchange rate gap has narrowed and confidence in the economy is returning; Capital inflows have risen from $710 million in the first quarter of 2016 to $5.5 billion by the second quarter of this year and Nigeria’s stock market ended 2017 as one of the best performing in the world.
While also mentioning that between 2016 and 2017, our exports have grown by 59.5%, from N8, 527 billion in 2016 to N13, 598 billion in 2017, he added that trade balance has grown from a deficit of N290.1 billion in 2016 to peak at a surplus of N4, 035.5 billion in 2017.
These, he said, are as a result of what government has been doing in the past three years, which among others included ensuring alignment between the Medium Term Fiscal Frameworks (MTFF), the annual budgets and the ERGP; and the adoption of the Zero-based budgeting system which has helped in scrutinising public expenditure estimates at the micro levels to ensure effective deployment of our limited resources to areas and sectors with the greatest development impact.
Others include substantial investments in power and transport infrastructure, capital provisions in agriculture, introduction of the Social Intervention Programme (SIP), measures to improve health and educational infrastructure, introduction of measures to increase revenues as well as commitment to improve the business environment which resulted in an improved ranking in the World Bank ease of doing business index, from 169 in 2016 to 145 in 2017.
Acknowledging however that there is still more work to be done, the Minister told representatives of State Governments and other development partners at the gathering that there is an urgent need to intensify work on the implementation of the Plan to achieve the Nigeria of our dream.
The Minister noted that since the adoption of the ERGP, the JPB/NCDP has been utilised to examine ways of facilitating the delivery of its objectives and urged further commitment from all stakeholders so that we can work together to ensure that the Plan achieves its set goals and targets. “We must intensify the work we are doing in the implementation of the ERGP. We must continuously introduce new ways of doing things better”, he said.
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who declared the NCDP meeting open, agreed with the Minister that notwithstanding the successes recorded so far in the implementation of the ERGP, the Government is determined to do even more; adding that the realisation of the goals of the ERGP will require the active participation of the sub-national governments.
“At the Federal level, our commitment is never in doubt. We will definitely not relent until the majority of the citizens feel the impact of our efforts,” he assured.
Prof. Osinbajo who was represented by the Budget and National Planning Minister, Senator Udoma, commended States that have already adopted a number of the initiatives being promoted in the Plan, and called on other States that have not done so to key into the implementation of the Plan because it was the only way we can together guarantee a better future.
The gathering was also addressed by the governor of the host State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige.
Special Adviser (Media) to the Minister of Budget & National Planning