By Peter Egwuatu
The Federal Government, weekend, raised alarm over the increasing rate of unemployment in the country which hits a high of about 19.47 per cent.
To this extent, the Government said it would create enabling environment that would create jobs for Nigerians who have been graduating from schools annually.
The Minister of Finance, Mr. Olusegun Aganga in a joint briefing with the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms. Arunma Oteh and Commission for Insurance, Mr. Fola Daniel, in Lagos after a meeting with operators in the capital market and insurance industries on how to restore investorsâ€™ confidence and move the economy forward said, â€œ Our economy is doing well but we know as a country with great potentials we can still do better. Our target is to have double digit growth rate annually.
We want to assist the real sector to grow the economy by providing cheaper credit to the manufacturing industries. Government is worried over the growing rate of unemployment.
Unemployment is about 19.47 per cent, the real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 7.2 per cent, Oil GDP grew by by 3.2 per cent in first quarter 2010 compared with a contraction of 8.08 per cent in first quarter 2009 and 6.55 per cent in first quarter 2008 respectively.
The non oil sector GDP grew by 8.15 per cent and 7.9 per cent in first quarter of 2009 and 2008 respectively. These figures are from the Federal Bureau of Statistics. By all these measures our economy is doing well. But we know as a country with great potentials we can still do betterâ€
On the state of the financial sector, he said, â€œ Our banks are safe. The CBN has been able to put a lot of measures that would make the banks more credible and accountable.
The 14 banks who are not troubled are doing well while the other nine trouble banks are brazing up. So there is no need to continue to concentrate and talk about the troubled ones as the CBN has taken steps to address their problems.â€
While explaining the areas that government wants to urgently address he said, â€œ Our target is to have double digit growth and we can achieve it . Our priority for the economic management change are into four broadly areas.
First, we want to address the issue of capital as we need to assist the real sector get capital for investment. We want the manufacturers to have access and cheaper credit to help engender productivity.
We want more job creation to be able to address the unemployment situation. This is very critical and that is why I make it clear to the committee established to look into this issue.
Given the growth of unemployment, it means we have not successfully converted our great advantage as a big nation producing graduate every year.â€
And the area that help to facilitate real economic growth must be well catered for. This is the challenge I gave the committee.
Continuing, the Minister said , Government will also create enabling environment as all barriers to productivity will be addressed. We would create enabling environment that would attract both local and foreign investors. The creation of infrastructure is another priority of government. Power is the key of them. If you ask any body here what they really need now an sure the person will say power, power , power.
We would remove barriers to attract investors to this area. So we want the private sector to come and partner with the government in the provision of infrastructure. Government cannot do it alone. We know we cannot afford to fund or finance the infrastructure deficit entirely from our budget.
We know we have narrow means and we know that to fill the gap is very important and that is why we call upon the private sector to drive infrastructure development. But Government must create that environment and we are working on that.â€
Aganga, further said there is need for investors to take advantage of the growing size of the pension funds whichstands at N1.7 trillion.
In his words, â€œ In pension fund we have N1.7 trillion and that is growing monthly between N20 and N30 billion. It is important we make use of this money and put it to work to develop our economy bearing in mind and making sure that we have a right arrangement for managing the risk around it because this money has to be available when they have to be paid off. But this is long term capital that have to be utilized efficiently to help drive and grow our economy.â€