The Federal Government has set the ball rolling for an expansive and all-inclusive medium term economic development plan (2017 -2019) with inputs from a galaxy of Nigeria’s topmost economic and financial experts with a view to rejigging the economy out of recession.
The cross-pollination of ideas between the government economic team and private and public sector eggheads on ways to revamp the troubled economy and take the nation out of recession to the path of prosperity, took place at a two-day national economic retreat, which opened in Abuja today.
The economists and resource persons were deliberately assembled by the government to make contributions that would form part of the economic road-map to be delivered to Nigerians by December this year.
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, while declaring the retreat open said after preliminary consultations within the Economic Management Team and partners from the private sector and academia, it was proposed that the work should be along five thematic areas, namely: macroeconomic policy, economic diversification and growth, competitiveness, jobs and social inclusion, and governance.
He told the experts that they have been invited to work with government in transforming the country’s economy, the purpose being that government wants a final product which will achieve the desired result and also stand the test of time.
Recalling the various actions culminating in the retreat, the Minister said the Economic Management Team has been working very hard since the release of the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) in May, which formed the basis for the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) that was completed in August 2016.
The MTEF/FSP “involved extensive consultations with top economists, the organized private sector, civil society as well as state governors. We also developed the Medium Term Sector Strategy (MTSS) for the large spending ministries. These are all inputs in the 2017 budget.
“In the preparation for the 2017 Budget, we also organized a Ministerial Retreat which was chaired by His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari. Our intention now is to bring all this work together as part of a comprehensive medium term plan. As His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari had promised, this last stage will involve extensive consultations. And that is the purpose of this retreat.
While acknowledging that the country has never been short of good policy proposals, the Minister charged participants to not only be candid in their contributions but also innovative in coming up with proposals and ideas that are to be included in the economic recovery and growth plan.
“The ideas that are contributed and adopted by thematic groups will be captured in a draft document which will be shared in consultation with various groups, including the federal and state governments, the private sector and our development partners.”
Dismissing comments in some quarters that government does not have an economic programme, the Minister reminded participants that “the administration laid out a clear economic vision and direction in the President’s 2016 Budget speech as well as in the SIP for the 2016 Budget of Change”.
The SIP is anchored on four policy fundamentals: investing in critical infrastructure, embracing the private sector, fostering social inclusion and job creation and improving security and tacking corruption.
He noted that the execution and monitoring of these fundamental objectives are prioritized in six thematic areas which are: policy, security and governance; Diversification of the economy; power, rail and roads; oil and gas reforms; ease of doing business and social investment.
Thirty four key actions of the SIP were selected for immediate implementation and according to him, “many of these are already yielding results.”
Senator Udoma explained that the SIP was intended for the short-term pointing out that in the Foreword, President Muhammadu Buhari had stressed that a more comprehensive medium term plan involving extensive consultations would be delivered before the end of the year, as a follow-up to the SIP. “This explains why we are gathered here”, he added.
The Minister indicated that some of the actions outlined in the SIP included the development of sector road maps. “These have since been concluded and launched for Agriculture, Solid Minerals, Water Resources and Petroleum Resources, and will be incorporated in the medium term development plan”, he said.