Nigerian Government Rolls Out 33 Policy Actions To Revamp Economy

Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, says the Federal Government has developed a Strategic Implementation Plan for the 2016 budget.

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Professor Osinbajo said that the plan articulates six thematic strategies that would constitute the short-term priority of the government over the next 12 months.

In his speech at the Nation’s Forum On The Economy held on Thursday in Lagos State, south-west Nigeria, the Vice President said that the government would focus on implementing about 33 Priority Actions under the six themes in the 2016 fiscal year.

Priority Actions

One of the priority actions, according to him, is a plan for lasting changes in the policy environment, national security and governance. He said it would enable the government achieve an appropriate foreign exchange regime, increase low interest lending to the real sector.

“We need to move toward a single digit interest rate, maintain capital spending in the budget at a minimum of 30%, complement this with funds from the infrastructure fund for commercial projects, intensify the implementation of public financial management reforms to grow revenues and cut costs,” he said.

Professor Osinbajo, however, stressed that there was no plan to cut staff numbers.

“You cannot say you are creating jobs and then cutting jobs.

“We will maintain sustainable debt management strategy, introduce fiscal incentives to improve collections, intensify the fight against corruption by increasing transparency, accountability and compliance with law and order and intensify public procurement reforms in projects to obtain value for money and cut cost.”

He said that part of the first plan was the governments’ commitment to sustaining the fight against insurgency, kidnapping and other violent crimes, terrorism, cyber-crimes, piracy, oil theft and illegal mining activities, intensify the reorientation of the populace through integrity campaigns.

On the second thematic strategy, the Vice President said that the government had a plan to further diversify the economy by fast-tracking industrialisation, Agriculture and Agro-Allied Processing as well as attracting investment into the Solid Minerals, Tourism and Entertainment Sectors.

The government is also looking at implementing measures to achieve self-sufficiency and become net exporters of certain agricultural items – rice in 2018, tomato paste in 2016 and wheat in 2019.

“We want to increase local production of maize, soya, poultry and livestock, so as to achieve self-sufficiency. The deadlines are to be announced in due course.

“We will revitalise and expand agro-allied processing to intensify local production and processing of cassava, cocoa, cashew, fruits and sesame seed, utilize 5,000 hectares of irrigable land in the 12 River Basin Development Authorities and utilise 22 dams for commercial farming activities by prospective investors,” the Vice President told the gathering.

He further said that part of the strategy to revitalise the economy were plans to develop Dadinkowa, Gurara and Oyan dams with 82.5 megawatts capacity contribution to the national grid, adopt and implement a roadmap to stimulate investment into the solid minerals sector and plug revenue leakages in the sector.

Professor Osinbajo also stated that the government would implement the National Industrial Revolution Plan, launch the ‘made in Nigeria’ campaign, increase manufacturing capacity through the operationalisation of industrial parks and free export processing zones among others.

Part of the second set of the priority actions are plans to enhance support facilities to provide increased financial, technical assistance, networking and information to new investors and existing enterprises, implement the roadmap to increase private sector investment in culture, tourism, entertainment and sports and create high-technology innovation hubs to support growth in the digital and technology sectors.

In the third category are plans to make critical infrastructure a priority, which the Vice President was optimistic would increase investment in power, rail and roads.

The government will also optimise the 7,000 megawatts installed capacity and ensure associated infrastructure to fuel, transmit and distribute the capacity, ensure tariff includes all costs of transmission, generation and gas at new price, and distribution company costs required to operate, maintain and upgrade distribution networks and resolve all issues on gas pricing, tariffs and payment assurance.

In the short and medium term plan, the government will also conclude roadmap on gas development, complete the Kaduna-Abuja and Ajaokuta-Warri Rail Lines scheduled for 2016, commence the construction of the Lagos-Kano standard gauge Line and finalise negotiations for the Calabar-Lagos Rail Project, undertake the rehabilitation and construction of 31 major road projects scheduled for 2016 to restore degraded sections of the federal highways network and to establish connectivity over a distance of 2,193km (through public works projects, maintenance works, PPP and other interventions) and complete the rehabilitation of 4 Airports – Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt.

In the oil and gas sector, the forth thematic strategy, Professor Osinbajo said that the government would reform the sector by adopting and executing a Comprehensive National Oil and Gas Master-Plan (‘NOGM’), as the roadmap for the petroleum industry’s development, diversification, privatisation and governance.

He said: “We will adopt and execute a roadmap of gas development and flare elimination, set a deadline to be self-sufficient in refined petroleum products and become a net exporter, work with the national assembly on the passage of a revised Petroleum Industry Bill (‘PIB’) or bills to give effect to the NOGM and to resolve fiscal and governance issues of the Sector, eliminate gas flaring and conclude negotiations to deal with all funding gap issues in the Upstream Sector”.

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“We Shall Remain Engaged”

Another strategy in the plan is focused on the need to ease the challenges faced by persons interested in establishing a business in Nigeria.

He said that the government planned to move 20 places up in the global Ease of Doing Business rankings, by implementing fast track measures for business approvals and acquisition of land titles.

Nigeria is currently ranked 169 out of 189 countries by the World Bank – 2015 Survey.

The Vice President told the gathering that the government would also fast-track visa application and issuance processes to further ease the system.

He further stated that the Buhari-led administration’s sixth strategy would focus on social investment and would implement social intervention programme and specific health and education projects included in 2016 Budget, introduce health sector interventions, including flagging off the revitalisation of one primary health centre per Ward.

The government said it targets a total of 10,000 health centres nationwide.

According to the Vice President, the Social Investment plans include the training and deployment of 500,000 unemployed graduates as volunteer teachers who would be paid on the job while they seek jobs in their chosen careers, implementation of ‘Homegrown School Feeding’ for primary school pupils across the country paid for by the government.

The government will also introduce a micro-credit scheme that will provide very soft loans to a million market women, artisans, traders and create innovation and technology hubs and parks on a large scale and provide skills acquisition and vocational training for over 300,000 non-graduate youths.

It will also provide a ‘Conditional Cash Transfer’ where one million poor and vulnerable Nigerians would receive 5,000 Naira monthly and a bursary awards for tertiary education students of science, technology, engineering and maths and STEM.

“Journey to Change”

He told the gathering that, as indicated by President Muhammadu Buhari in his 2016 Budget Presentation speech, the Administration remained committed to economic diversification through import substitution, and export promotion, in order to build a robust and resilient economy, as a lasting legacy for generations to come.

“This Strategic Implementation Plan therefore represents a significant step along this Journey to Change.

“It is important to underscore the point that we shall remain engaged with the Nigerian people, including stakeholders in the economy.

“We intend to start a quarterly meeting with members of the private sector and other economic stakeholders soon and thereby create a forum for engagement on an ongoing basis. Town-hall meetings at the presidential level would also be resumed across the country to explain progress and address the challenges with our people,” the Vice President said.

He, however, urged Nigerians to remain patient and indeed expectant while stating that the government acknowledged the pains and was concerned by them.

“We are working diligently to address the tough challenges inherited from the nation’s past.

“We are taking action and in due course they would produce satisfying outcomes, for they are borne out of a leadership that has no other agenda but the progress and greatness of Nigeria,” he added.

CREDITS: Channels Television

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Iheanyi Igboko is a social advocate, educator and journalist/blogger; working actively in the education and human development sector. He is passionate about promoting access to quality education, increasing youth active participation and engagement, and empowering young people to develop solutions to their problems. He craves unending hopes of a better Nigeria that will meet the hopes and aspirations of her citizens; and committed to building a nation that will seamlessly harness and develop her numerous human and capital potentials.

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