ABUJA (Ministry of Budget and National Planning) – The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma at a high level business meeting recently held in Washington DC, USA, under the auspices of the Corporate Council for Africa (CCA), reassured 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).
He explained that the foundation of the Nigerian economy is strong, the main indices are positive and growing, and oil prices are stable and the convergence in foreign exchange windows had helped in reducing inflation and rebuilding external buffers.
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; he explained 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 special production and processing centers across all 109 senatorial zones.
He assured the audience that in partnership with the private sector, government would continue to invest in infrastructure, particularly in power, roads, ports and rail. He continued that government is encouraging Public Private Partnerships; 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.
Udoma Udo Udoma further revealed that government is committed to encouraging investors who wish to do business by removing bottlenecks and ease bureaucratic constraints and invest in human capital development as investments in the social investment programmes are already yielding great results.
He enumerated some of the successes of the present administration in oil production in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria which had led 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 include 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.
He continued that several measures have also been taken to improve public finance efficiency including the establishment of an Efficiency Unit to cut costs and block leakages among others.
In her presentation, the Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed spoke on the country’s debt position, pointing out that although the country’s 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 investors that the Nigerian government is prudent in both debt management and overall finance management; stressing that Nigeria’s loans have been used to fund critical infrastructure which will help to expand our capacity to grow and generate more resources.
The Minister emphasised that government is however focused on increasing revenues which is why initiatives were put in place to grow income while explaining that Nigeria’s debt levels are within approved fiscal limits as government is committed to its fiscal sustainability programme.
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.