The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma says the 4.8 per cent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth targeted in Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) for 2018 is achievable.
Udoma said this in a statement issued by his Media Adviser, Mr James Akpandem on Sunday in Abuja.
The minister gave the assurance at the Consultative Forum with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Private Sector Operators (PSO) and other members of the public in Lagos.
The aim of the forum was to present draft proposals for the Medium Term Fiscal Framework/Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTFF/FSP) 2018-2020 to the stakeholders for suggestions and inputs.
The inputs from the stakeholders would be considered for inclusion in the final Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), which would serve as the basis for the 2018 Budget.
Udoma said it may be very challenging to achieve the target GDP growth rate of 4.8 per cent set out in the ERGP for 2018.
“It will be achieved if we are able to attract a high enough amount of private sector investment to drive economic growth.
“It is for this reason that government is putting a lot of effort and emphasis on making it easier for business to be transacted in the country.
“The good news is that there are presently many positive indicators in many sectors of the economy, which shows that we are moving in the right direction.
“They are indicators that we are moving in right direction and that the strategies set out in the ERGP are the right strategies,’’ he said.
The ERGP projects that Nigeria will make significant progress to achieve structural economic change with a more diversified and inclusive economy in five key areas by 2020.
The key areas are stable macro-economic environment, achieve agriculture and food security, ensure energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products, and drive industrialisation focusing on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as well as improve transportation infrastructure.
Udoma said all budgets prepared within the Plan period must be drawn from, and align with the provisions of the ERGP.
Addressing concerns raised over the level of borrowing, the minister said that the issue was not so much of a debt problem, but more of a revenue problem.
According to him, even with our present levels of borrowings, the country’s fiscal deficit is still well within the three per cent (3%) limit prescribed by the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
Udoma said that government would continue to monitor the deficit level to ensure that it remains within the three per cent threshold.
“If we have enough revenue coming in, we can easily offset the debts.
“The problem is that we are not getting as much revenue as we require and therefore, have to borrow to make up the shortfall required to fund the necessary infrastructure that will help us make our economy grow.
“That is why we have had to borrow, but our debt level is sustainable,’’ he said.
The minister, however, told stakeholders that the government had been working hard to increase its non-oil revenues, adding that it was not still sufficient.
For instance, he said the revenue from tax was very low considering the size of our economy and that it was about the lowest compared to other countries in Africa.
“Our tax to GDP ratio is 6 per cen, whereas the average in Africa is about 16 per cent.
“So we need to increase our revenues and government is working hard to increase revenues so as to be able to fund our expenditure without having to rely too heavily on borrowing,’’ the minister said.