The federal government, as part of efforts towards reflating the country’s economy and pulling it out of recession, has summoned an economic session to brainstorm on the issue.
President Muhammadu Buhari, his vice, Prof Yemi Osinbajo as well as ministers and heads of relevant federal ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) will today converge on Abuja for a one-day retreat to discuss steps to salvage the receding economy.
The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) had in August, reported that the nation’s economy had slid into recession for the first time in more than 20 years, as it announced a further contraction in the second quarter of the year. According to the NBS, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contracted by 2.06 percent after shrinking 0.36 in the first quarter.
This has generated anxiety among Nigerians home and abroad, who have urged the current administration of President Buhari to urgently search for ways out of the economic woes confronting the country.
President of the Senate, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday, said that on resumption next week, the Senate would investigate the cause of the country’s receding economy and also pass emergency pieces of legislation to tackle it. He said the time for identifying the cause of the economic recession and those responsible for it was over and that all political leaders should start working together to find a solution.
Saraki also disclosed that the Red Chamber will make “tough” recommendations to President Buhari on the matter.
The minister of budget and national planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, yesterday disclosed that the economic summit will also provide the forum for government to present and discuss priority areas of the 2017 budget and realign the priority areas of the MDAs with national growth and development objectives.
“The key objective of the retreat is to discuss the 2017 budget as well as discuss steps being taken to get the economy out of recession,” the minister said.
Spokesperson of the minister, Akpandem James, quoted the minister as saying that the meeting was part of a scheduled arrangement to fine-tune and set the right parameters for the 2017 budget.
“It (the meeting) will provide an opportunity to discuss the framework of the 2017 budget, the key priorities and the deliverables of the budget,” he explained.
“The retreat is expected to deliver improved understanding of the measures being taken to get the country out of recession, improve synergy among the various ministries for enhanced implementation of planning and budget, and enhance knowledge of how to develop 2017 budget, which is effectively linked with the medium term plan.
“The meeting will also review prioritised projects and programmes of ministries to fit into the 2017-2019 MTSS, 2017-2020 Medium Term Plan and 2017 Budget, and improved understanding on budget ceiling for MDAs for 2017 Budget,” he said.
Akpandem said President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would participate in the meeting, while private sector facilitators and some experts on economics are also expected to provide perspectives during the technical sessions.
He said the retreat became necessary as years of the country’s growth and development had been impeded by mismatch between planned targets and budgetary outcomes at the national and sectoral levels, due to the lack of synergy between the various federal MDAs.
Seek experts’ advice – Emir Sanusi
Meanwhile, the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, has called on the federal government to seek the advice of experts on economics in tackling the current economic crisis in the country.
Sanusi gave the advice during the traditional Sallah Durbar (Hawan Nasarawa) at Government House, Kano.
He said consulting the experts would help in bringing about proper solution to the crisis and reducing the hardship people are currently facing in the country.
The emir, a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), also urged wealthy Nigerians to support the less-privileged in the society in order to alleviate their sufferings.
He also urged the people of Kano to remain law-abiding and be their brother’s keeper irrespective of religion or ethnic background, for all Nigerians to continue to pray for economic growth and development of the country.
The royal father appealed to the state government to empower the people with economic skills that would make them self-reliant.
Also, an economist and managing director of Financial Derivatives Company Ltd, Mr Bismarck Rewane, said that in order for the country to come out of recession, the federal government needs to borrow and sell assets to raise funds that would be injected into the economy.
Speaking on the current state of the nation’s economy, Rewane said the government must, first and foremost, inject money into the system.
According to him, since there is a fall in oil revenue, the government has to increase the deficit plan for 2016.
“The government must inject funds into the system and the executive is fully engaged because they know they cannot hide; they have to deal with the problem,’’ he said.
Similarly, the immediate past finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, also urged the present administration to look inwards for solutions to the current economic crisis in the country.
“The solutions to the country’s economic decline could still be found in the country,” she said in an interview on Aljazeera programme, The Stream.