WorldStage Newsonline-- The Federal Government of Nigeria has announced plans to set up focused labs as brainstorming facilities to utilize the insights of stakeholders towards speedy resolution of any challenge in critical areas of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma while briefing members of the Senate Committee on National Planning on the state of the economy in Abuja emphasized that the focused labs would help to further consolidate the gains of government’s economic diversification programme.
He explained that the central objective of the labs include how to bring in private capital to finance a number of development projects across the country.
He pointed out that the labs were intended to bring all the relevant stakeholders in the public and private sectors into weeks of intensive working sessions to brainstorm on practical steps to overcoming any identified challenges in the selected areas.
He also said that the Federal Government hadengaged some economic and development experts from the private sector and the academia on ERGP implementation to facilitate the process.
He told the senators that an implementation unit had been set up in his Ministry to closely monitor the implementation of the critical initiatives of the plan and periodically evaluate implementation progress against set targets and milestones.
He said the unit would provide early warning signals of potential risks and work closely with the MDAs to articulate actionable measures to be taken against any identified constraints.
On the recent National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report which announced the country’s economy exit from recession, Senator Udoma said that even though a GDP growth rate of 0.55% is not a substantial growth rate, it nevertheless is significant because the downward drift has been arrested.
“The fact that the downward drift has been arrested and the economic indicators are pointing upwards is a significant step forward in the effort to reposition the economy which took a downward trajectory beginning 2014 and slipped into a recession in the second quarter of 2016,” he said.
He said that with population growth rate at about 3%, the 0.55% growth in GDP was not likely to make any appreciable impact on people’s lives, but he was optimistic that by the time the 2020 target of 7% is realized, the full impact of the growth will be felt by Nigerians.
The Minister said it was encouraging that some very promising growth levels were being recorded in the non-oil sector, with agriculture posting 3.01% in the second quarter of 2017 and Industry turning positive for the first time in nine quarters.
He said, “Compared to the situation last year where 27 out of 46 economic activities recorded negative growth, only 21 recorded negative in the second quarter of 2017.
“Headline inflation has declined since January reflecting tight monetary policy and strengthened Naira in the foreign exchange market.”
While appreciating the efforts of government in repositioning the economy, chairman of the Committee, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso said the achievements would be more appreciated when the people start feeling the impact of the economic reforms in their daily dealings.
A member of the Committee, Senator Madaki Bukar advised that serious consideration should be given to the establishment of micro-finance banks in the rural areas to enable local farmer have access to credits.
Senator Bukar said if the economic fortunes of the local farmers and small scale entrepreneurs improve, the larger economy will benefit from some kind of multiplier effect.