2019 Budget: Nigerians should expect a brighter future – Udoma


The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, at the 2019 Budget Breakdown Session in Abuja on Tuesday told Nigerians to be hopeful of a brighter future as the seeds of development planted in the last four years are germinating and soon will be bearing fruits.

While acknowledging the patience of Nigerians and the contributions of critical stakeholders like the National Assembly, the Media and other partners, to the development efforts of government, Senator Udoma explained that an economy usually take some time to build up momentum after a period of recession.

He added however that all indices point to the direction of positive growth and the dividends will soon manifest with greater impact as government continues to faithfully implement the provisions of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), which underpins government’s economic recovery actions.

The Minister pointed to the fact that already the macro-economy has remained largely stable and growth has increased from 0.82% in 2017 to 1.93% in 2018 and 3.01% is expected in 2019, with the continuing implementation of the ERGP. “Real GDP increased from 1.89% in Q1 of 2018 to 2.01% in the first quarter of 2019 - the strongest first quarter growth since 2015; Significant growth has been recorded in the non-oil sector: 2.47% growth in Q1 2019, up from 0.76% in Q1 2018 and diversification efforts have continued as contribution of the non-oil sector to GDP increased from 90.4% in Q1 2018 to 90.9% in Q1 2019”.

Senator Udoma said that a lot has been done by the Buhari administration in the first four years and the second term will be focused on building on the initiatives and development efforts already put in place. “The 2019 budget is designed to further reposition the economy on the path of higher, inclusive, diversified and sustainable growth; and to continue to lift significant numbers of our citizens out of poverty”.

The 2019 budget proposal was presented to the National Assembly (NASS) by President Muhammadu Buhari on December 19, 2018; and passed by the NASS on May 9, 2019. The President signed the budget into law on Monday May 27, 2019. The total budget outlay for 2019 is N8.92 trillion.

According to him, the 2019 Budget seeks to continue the reflationary and consolidation policies of the 2017 and 2018 Budgets respectively, which helped put the economy back on the path of growth. On the expenditure side, allocations to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of Government were guided by the three core objectives of the ERGP: Restoring and sustaining growth; Investing in our people, and Building a globally competitive economy.

Acknowledging that Nigeria faces significant challenges with respect to revenue generation, he assured that government is taking every necessary steps to tackle challenge. “Key reforms will be implemented with increased vigour to improve revenue collection and expenditure management. Mr. President is committed, and has directed that all measures necessary be taken to ensure that we grow rapidly while maintaining fiscal sustainability. To ensure that this happens, the President set up a Projects and Programmes Committee which has concluded its work. The initiatives developed by this committee will be rolled out as the President enters his second term.”

Government, he said, will continue to create the enabling environment for the private sector to increase investment so as to increase productivity, create jobs and stimulate further growth.

To continue to fund the budget, the Minister said apart from initiatives in other sectors, the Federal Government has also sustained its efforts to improve public financial management through the comprehensive implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS). The President has also directed that work should be concluded on the deployment of the National Trade Window and other technologies to enhance Customs collections efficiency.

Speaking on the adjustments made by the National Assembly, he said:

·        Executive revenue assumptions were generally approved and adopted by NASS, except for unexplained increases totalling N31.5 billion on some non-oil revenue lines.

·        NASS increased the budget size from N8.83 trillion to N8.92 trillion, translating to an increase of N90.33 billion

·        This has resulted in an overall increase of N58.83 billion in deficit. Inexplicably, NASS reduced the proposed borrowing from N1.649 trillion to N1.605 trillion, thus creating an overall unfunded deficit of N102.83 billion. To fully fund the budget, the level of borrowing may therefore have to increase.

·        Allocations for some executive projects based on critical appraisal and linked to the ERGP were reduced and a large number of new projects, mainly constituency type projects, were introduced.

·        Mr. President intends to engage the leadership of the ninth National Assembly, as soon as it emerges, to effect any amendments necessary to ensure he delivers on his electoral promises.

·        Mr. President also intends to seek the support of the leadership of the NASS for a smoother, faster budget process going forward and their collaboration to return to a January-December fiscal year.

On the issue of unemployment, the Minister said although statistics show that unemployment and underemployment remain high in Nigeria, “we can expect reduction in the rate of unemployment as we continue to implement the policies and programmes of the ERGP, which are directed at creating more diversified and inclusive growth. Mr President has indicated that the focus of his second term will be employment generation,” he added.

Signed

Akpandem James

Special Adviser (Media and Communication) to the Hon. Minister

 

 

Nigeria Can Achieve 7% GDP Growth - Udoma


The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma has expressed hope that the country can achieve 7% GDP growth target.
 
Senator Udoma stated this on Tuesday in Abuja during an interactive session with the press while giving an overview of the achievements of the Ministry since the inception of this administration in 2015.
 
Udoma said, ‘’The President has indicated that he intends to stay focused on the implementation of the ERGP so as to ensure that we can achieve the 3.0 % growth target for this year. It is my hope that the seeds we are currently sowing will propel us to achieve our 7% GDP growth target in the course of Mr. Presidents’ second term".
 
On the latest GDP numbers just released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday, the Minister said that the performance in the first quarter of 2019 is the strongest first quarter growth since 2015, as well as stating that starting the year with a GDP growth of 2.01% is encouraging because the first quarter of the year often records the slowest growth in GDP.
 
He also said that the focus of the NEXT LEVEL agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari will be on job creation for the teeming youths of Nigeria.
 
He highlighted a number of measures the Ministry has put in place to stop the economic decline that the country faced during the early days of the Buhari administration.
 
These Include, the introduction of an expansionary budget in the 2016 fiscal year christened the Budget of Change, development of the ERGP, implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Efficiency Unit within the Ministry of Finance and the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit.
 
Other initiatives include the Whistle Blowing Policy, the Integrated Payroll Personnel System (IPPIS) and the Investors’ and Exporters Foreign Exchange window by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
 
 According to the Minister an important strategy the Ministry embarked on in order to exit recession was to seek to reflate the economy, this according to him was why they increased the capital budget and budgetary allocations to capital expenditure- from 16.1% in 2015 to 30.2% in 2016, 31. 7 % in 2017, 31.5% in 2018 and 26% in 2019- with priority given to the key execution priorities of the ERGP.
 
He added that the Ministry of Finance was able to release, for capital spending, the sum of 1.2 trillion under the 2016 Budget, the sum of N1.58 trillion under the 2017 budget, and as at 8th May, 2019, the sum of NI.55 trillion has been released under the 2018 Budget.
 
He stated that the implementation of the ERGP resulted in the economy exiting recession in the second quarter of 2017 and returning subsequently to the path of growth with most economic indices showing a positive momentum.
 
 Signed
Victoria Agba-Attah
Director (Information)
Tuesday, May 21, 2019

2nd Term: Buhari to intensify and consolidate implementation of ERGP


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.
 
Signed
Akpandem James
Special Adviser (Media & Communication) to the Hon, Minister

Udoma inaugurates 15-member NBS Governing Board


The 15-member Governing Board of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) was on Thursday inaugurated in Abuja by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma.
The Minister charged the new Board to work in harmony with the management of the Bureau to achieve its goals, especially considering the important role that the NBS plays in nation building
He pointed out that the roles and responsibilities of the Governing Boards of Parastatals and Agencies as provided in their respective establishment Acts are quite distinct from the day-to-day administration of parastatals and agencies under the leadership of Chief Executives who double as Accounting Officers.
The Minister stated that strict adherence to statutory provisions by both parties will enhance harmonious relationship devoid of bickering and other unhealthy occurrences.
The NBS is one of the three parastatals under the Ministry. The other two are the National Institute for Social and Economic Research (NISER) and the Centre for Management Development (CMD). The Governing Boards of the two institutions were inaugurated on March 8, 2018.
It would be recalled that last year, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the constitution of the Boards of some Federal Government Agencies/Parastatals to provide proper governance and oversight structure for them as well as drive general policy formulation  for the implementation of their management teams.
While the boards of other parastatals were immediately inaugurated, that of NBS, which requires Senate confirmation, was postponed to await that confirmation. The approval was obtained recently.
The Minister explained that the NBS is the government agency charged with the responsibility for data generation and dissemination in Nigeria. “The agency facilitates sectoral development in updating, monitoring Nigeria’s socio-economic indicators and advises the government as well as relevant stakeholders including the public and private sectors on our social rankings, etc. Considering the important role the NBS plays in nation building, the need for a supportive Governing Board cannot be over-emphasised.”
He emphasized that the appointment of the Board members is on part-time basis. “You are required to work with the management of the NBS to, inter alia, determine its mission and long-term strategy roles and responsibilities and develop strategies to promote sustainable and cost-efficient activities of the Bureau”.
In his welcome address, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr Ernest Umakhihe, congratulated the members on their appointment, noting that the eventual inauguration has been long awaited since the Boards of two other agencies supervised by the Ministry had been done a year ago. “We are all happy because it has come at this auspicious time”.
He urged them to be focused and selfless in the discharge of their duties, and should bear in mind that the assignment is a call to the service of their fatherland.
The Chairman of the Board, Dr Kabiru Nakaura, thanked the President for the appointment and appreciated the Minister for the inauguration. He pledged the willingness of the Board to discharge its responsibilities creditably.
Two senior Presidency officials, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Affairs, Senator Ita Enang and the Senior Special Adviser to The President on Constitutional Matters, Mr Okoi Obono Obla, witnessed the inauguration.
The 15-member Governing Board comprises six political appointees and nine Institutional members. The Statistician-General of the Federation, Dr Yemi Kale will serve as Secretary/Member.
The other members are: Professor Moses Imokhai Momoh, Mr Adam Modu, Mr Akinola Idowu Bashiru, Chief Paul Nwafor Chukwudi, Mr Wallijoh Danladi Ahijoh. The institutional members are: Minister of Budget and National Planning, Governor of the Central Bank, Minister of Finance, Minister of Education, Minister of Agriculture, Group Managing Director of NNPC, President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, President of the Nigeria Statistical Association and the Chief Executive Officer of the NBS.  
 
Signed
Akpandem James
Special Adviser (Media & Communication) to the Hon Minister
 

With elections over, Nigeria is set to for faster growth, Udoma assures foreign investors


The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, and his Finance Ministry counterpart, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, at the weekend in Washington DC, assured that with elections now over, Nigeria is set for faster growth.
At a high level business meeting with the US business community held under the auspices of the Corporate Council for Africa (CCA), Senator Udoma told investors that Nigeria is on the path of diversified inclusive growth; and President Muhammadu Buhari in his second term is focused on consolidation and further expansion of the investor-friendly policies of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
CCA is at the forefront of strengthening and facilitating the commercial relationship between the United States and the African continent. The audience was made up of top America investors, some of them already doing business in Nigeria.
Fundamentals of the Nigerian economy are strong and the main indices are positive and growing, he told them; and “oil prices are stable and the convergence in foreign exchange windows has helped in reducing inflation and rebuilding external buffers. 2017 was better than 2016, just as 2018 was better than 2017, and 2019 will be even better”, he assured investors.
While indicating that the economy is projected to grow by 3.01% in 2019 with single digit inflation (9.98%), the Minister said Nigeria is focused on diversification of the economy in partnership with the private sector; explaining that with the development of Special Economic Zones, Nigeria intends to exploit the comparative advantages of the six geo-political zones and the 36 states by establishing six Industrial Parks and 109 Special Production and Processing Centres across all 109 senatorial zones.
Government, he assured will continue to invest in infrastructure, particularly in power, roads, ports and rail, in partnership with the private sector.
He said government is encouraging Public Private Partnerships and tax incentives are also being provided to encourage the private sector to participate in the provision of public facilities, for instance the Executive Order 007 on Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme.
The businessmen were informed that efforts to improve infrastructure will be complemented by reforms to make it easier to do business with the aim of achieving a ranking of less than 100 in the World Bank’s ease of doing business survey. Also Investments in Human capital, as well as Poverty Reduction initiatives, are being stepped up.
The Minister said implementation of the ERGP has restored growth in  GDP. Other macroeconomic indicators such as capital inflows, foreign reserves, trade balance, and Manufacturing Performance Managers Index (PMI) have been showing improvements, while inflation has been trending down”.
Government, he added, is focused on building a globally competitive economy as the ERGP seeks to stimulate growth by leveraging the power of the private sector and allowing markets to function. Also, “Government is committed to human capital development. Investments in the social investment programme are already yielding great results. Momentum is building up and we are moving in the right direction”, he added.
Government, he stressed, is committed to creating an enabling environment for investors wishing to do business by removing bottlenecks and easing bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria.
 
He enumerated policy reforms, initiatives and measures to improve the country’s economic performance which have been undertaken under the ERGP to include:
  Establishment of investors’ and exporters’ foreign exchange Window by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to deepen the foreign exchange market, boost liquidity and  accommodate all foreign exchange requirements
  Establishment of Nigeria Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council as a vehicle for partnering with the private sector on the industrialization agenda
  Partnership with the private sector on infrastructure development including the Road Trust Fund Scheme, Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme, Concessions; and arrangements and Public, Private Partnerships
  Development and implementation of the Power Sector Recovery Programme which consists of a number of policy actions, operational governance, and financial interventions in order to reset the Nigerian electricity supply industry for future growth
He also pointed out that Government succeeded in improving oil production  by a number of measures including positive engagement with communities  in the Niger Delta, leading to fewer disruptions as well as transition from Joint Venture Cash Calls for Financing Oil Production to a new cost recovery funding mechanism. Other measures directed at increasing revenues have included the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) resulting in number of tax payers rising from 13 to 19 million, and an Executive Order on remittances of Government-owned Enterprises (GOEs) Operating Surplus.
Several measures have also been taken to improve public finance efficiency including the establishment of an Efficiency Unit to cut costs and block leakages, Treasury Single Account (TSA) implementation, whistle blowing policy, Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit and the Integrated Payroll Personnel System (IPPIS) implemented across MDAs. All these are targeted at enhancing efficiency and eliminating unjustified payroll entries.
In her presentation, the Finance Minister spoke on the country’s debt position, pointing out that although the debt level has been on the rise, Nigeria does not have a debt problem, rather the challenge is in the area of revenue generation. “Our debts are at the level that are sustainable; what we are trying to do is to increase our revenues”, she pointed out.   
She told the businessmen that the Nigerian government is prudent in both debt management and overall financial management. “Our borrowings have been used to fund critical infrastructure which will help to expand our capacity to grow and generate more resources for further development of the country.’
Mrs Ahmed emphasised that Nigeria’s debt levels are within approved fiscal limits, as government is committed to its fiscal sustainability programme.
Government is however focused on increasing revenues which is why, she said government had to put in place initiatives to grow revenues. Among them include tax reforms and strategic policies aimed at increasing Customs revenues.
The Chief Executive Officer of CCA, Florie Liser, in her opening remarks said the organisation works closely with governments, multi-lateral groups and businesses to improve the African continent’s trade and investment climate and to raise the profile of Africa in the US business community.
She praised Nigeria’s economic managers as she noted that the country’s economy has been growing steadily since the country exited recession in the second quarter of 2017.
Signed
Akpandem James
                         Special Adviser (Media) to the Hon. Minister           


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