World Bank Pledges To Support Nigeria’s Economic Policies, IDPs | Independent Newspapers Limited
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World Bank Pledges To Support Nigeria’s Economic Policies, IDPs

World Bank
Posted: Apr 28, 2016 at 3:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)



…Buhari Asks It To Facilitate Speedy Repatriation Of $320m Abacha Loot


Innocent Oweh



The World Bank on Wednesday promised to support Nigeria’s economic policies tailored towards revamping the country.

This is as President Muhammadu Buhari urged it to facilitate the speedy repatriation of about $320 million of the Abacha loot still stashed in Swiss banks.

This was after Ms. Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of the World Bank, held talks with President Muhammadu Buhari on how the bank could help Nigeria overcome an economic crisis caused mainly by a sharp fall in crude prices that has reduced oil revenues.

Indrawati told newsmen at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, that the institution would support the country’s reform agenda on natural resources, fiscal policy, amongst others.

“We would like to know how we can help Nigeria to make the very important decisions, whether on micro-economic policies and other sectoral policies that will make this economy to move forward, to become a strong middle-income country to have a much more inclusive growth, to have a vibrant economic activity and creating job and eradicating poverty”, Indrawati said.

The Federal Government plans to stimulate the economy with a record

N6.06 trillion budget. It will need to borrow N2.2 trillion from abroad and at home to help fund the budget, which has been delayed by several months and wrangling with the National Assembly. Although the government held talks with the World Bank over a possible loan or credit facility in recent months, Indrawati did not address this when speaking to reporters after the meeting.

Indrawati, who is responsible for the World Bank’s operations worldwide, was on a short visit to Nigeria via Cameroon.

She said that at the meeting with the president, the government’s reforms as well as economic difficulties were discussed, especially the need of a wider economic agenda.

“We discussed about the agricultural sector, infrastructure but also the need to pursue and continue doing a very difficult reform.

“The president has a very heavy attention on infrastructure and agriculture, that is one area we would also like to support with our own ideas by the private sector arm of the World Bank,” she said.

Indrawati said she had also discussed the possible areas of priority, mode of engagement and the operational details of how this is going to be used in the most effective way.

“We also discussed more in terms of the need to diversify the economy away from oil. We also discussed on how to improve the fiscal side with the minister of finance under her leadership and try to improve on the revenue side, whether to improve collection of tax as well as to fight against inefficiency and corruption.

“We also discussed on how to support the management of natural resources, especially the oil, which I think Nigeria has its own reform agenda to improve the governance and management of the oil sector.

“I think that is an important goal which is being launched by the Federal Government. That is the area that I think we would like to support in any way we could so that it can be delivered, in terms of a healthy sector, good governance as well as effectively supporting the need of the people and the economy”, she said.

The managing director, who was visiting Nigeria for the first time, noted that the bank was also paying very close attention to the war-torn North Eastern section of the country.

President Buhari also asked the World Bank to facilitate the speedy repatriation of about $320 million of Abacha loot in Swiss banks.

Buhari said that the repatriation of the money which has been identified as illegally taken from Nigeria under the Abacha administration will help to ease the country’s current economic hardship.

He assured the World Bank that his administration was taking appropriate steps to ensure that public funds are no longer stolen or misappropriated by government officials.

“We need the support of the World Bank for the repatriation of the funds. We are as concerned as the World Bank about accountability. If such repatriated funds have been misapplied in the past, I assure you that the same will not happen with us.

“Three hundred and twenty million dollars is a lot of money and we will not allow it to be misappropriated or diverted,” a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Garba Shehu, after the meeting, quoted Buhari as saying to Indrawati.

President Buhari also assured the World Bank managing director that his administration will honour all agreements with the bank that will help to stimulate Nigeria’s economy and reduce the level of poverty in the country.

He said that Nigeria will welcome greater international assistance for the rehabilitation of damaged homes, schools, health facilities and other infrastructure in the North Eastern states affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.

Meanwhile, Indrawati has also begun talks with governors of the North East states affected by Boko Haram crisis.

Their discussions were mostly centred on rehabilitating the internally displaced persons (IDPs) drawn from the North East states, comprising Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, Bauchi and Gombe, estimated to be in the range of over two million.

About 56,000 IDPs are believed to be seeking refuge in neighbouring Cameroon, while another batch of 138,000 IDPs are reported to be seeking refuge in Niger Republic and a whopping 1.7 million others camping in various locations in Maiduguri, Borno State.

“We had the opportunity to meet with five governors of different states in order to discuss more on our programmes to support the North East region, especially dealing with internally displaced persons and how to restore both the livelihood of the people with the development programme.

“We also had the opportunity to discuss with the government to understand the challenges the Nigerian economy is facing, many other countries in the world are also facing weak global economy, low commodity prices in oil challenge of climate change and insecurity.

“We also acknowledge that Nigeria and the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari are now launching the objective of restoring stability, security, creating jobs and eradicating poverty.

“On the president’s fight against corruption, I think these are very commendable goals and the World Bank will support the government with the legal aspect in order for the government and its leadership to achieve these goals”.