State Of Emergency As Buhari Summons Ministers, Finance Experts Over Recession | Independent Newspapers Limited
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State Of Emergency As Buhari Summons Ministers, Finance Experts Over Recession

Herdsmen, buhari
Posted: Sep 16, 2016 at 5:35 am   /   by   /   comments (0)



*Says Situation Calls For Out-Of-The-Box Thinking





Apparently worried by the dimension which the economic recession has assumed, President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday summoned all cabinet members, including Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and key financial experts to a retreat at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Buhari specifically told his ministers that it behooves his administration to prove that it can fashion out a new economic blueprint for the country, which calls for thinking-out-of-the-box, if they must jump-start the economy and place it on a sustainable growth path.

At a one-day retreat with its theme, ‘Building Inter-Ministerial Synergy for Effective Planning and Budgeting in Nigeria’, coordinated by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, President Buhari said the support of private sector investors would be invaluable in current efforts to salvage the economy from its free fall.

“Indeed, the challenges we face in the current recession require ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking, to deploy strategies that involve engaging meaningfully with the private sector, to raise the level of private sector investment in the economy as a whole,” Buhari noted in his remarks.

The president said rhetorically that there was no point crying over spilt milk but that what should be of priority at the moment was how to get out of the scary situation.

The retreat came at a time when Nigerians were becoming frustrated and heaping criticisms on the government for the dire nature of the economy and alleged lackadaisical efforts those at the helm of affairs seem to be adopting in addressing the situation.

The Nigerian economy took a turn for the worse since the inception of the Buhari administration, with crude oil price, which still serves as mainstay for the economy, dropping to an all time low at the international market.

Militancy in the Niger Delta region, which has seen massive destruction of critical oil installations, had also compounded the situation, bringing daily crude production of 2.2 million barrels per day, which the 2016 budget was predicated upon, to less than 1.1 million barrels per day.

Government has repeatedly risen to its own defence, heaping most of the blames on the immediate past administration under President Goodluck Jonathan, which it has accused of running the country aground with “no savings or infrastructure” left on ground whatsoever.

Buhari said, “This retreat has been designed to discuss issues around the state of the economy and build consensus amongst cabinet members and top government officials.

“The retreat will also serve as an opportunity to have a general overview of the economy and discuss the framework for the 2017 budget, its key priorities and deliverables.

“It is coming at a critical time in our economic history, when the Nigerian economy is in a recession, with significant downturn in performance in various sectors.

“It is with regard to the importance of this retreat that I decided to sit through the first part of the session to listen to the views from experienced economists and development experts on how best to implement our plans to rid the country of its oil dependence and to diversify the economy and bring the country out of the current economic recession.

“This is in line with our administration’s determination to lay a solid foundation for growth and development as outlined in the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) of our change agenda.

“Take not that some key non-spending agencies, such as the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), the National Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) are participants at this retreat.

“Their deliberate inclusion underscores the commitment of this administration to leverage private sector resources through public private partnerships (PPP) and other arrangements in order to augment the scarce budgetary resources at our disposal and to accelerate investments in building critical infrastructure”.

Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, Minister of Budget and National Planning, said the retreat was significant because it will come out with a blueprint to help government prioritise, especially for 2017 budget which preparation process was underway.

“It’s a very important retreat, it’s part of our preparations for the 2017 budget; we want to make sure that as a cabinet we have synergy and we look at the priorities for the government for the 2017 budget and make sure that in the light of the current economic situation that the budget is well structured to take us back on the path of growth, that is the focus of this retreat.

“We are going to break into syndicate groups six in numbers, you will have ministers and permanent secretaries divided among the syndicate groups, then they will meet and they will now look at in the light of things that are happening in the economy what should be the focus of the 2017 budget.

“They will come back and present it at the plenary, the different groups, so at the end of the exercise we will get a consensus on what the priorities should be, that is the focus of this exercise.

“So that we do it jointly, we have a consensus, the whole cabinet speaks with one voice and they say this is what we are going to do in the 2017 budget,” Udoma added.

Meanwhile, Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Finance, said government has great sympathy for Nigerians, especially on the hardship which they are facing owing to poor economic variables.

She said there were predictions that Nigeria’s economy would go under at the onset of this administration but that the impact was grossly underestimated.

She urged everybody to rally round efforts to turn around the situation for good.