By Emeka Anaeto & Emma Ujah in Bali Indonesia
President Muhammadu Buhari has instructed his ministers to ignore the noise of the coming elections.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma, disclosed this in his remarks as a panelist during the Presentation of the IMF 2018 Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa, at the on-going IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings in Bali, Indonesia.
Rather, he said, the president has tasked the cabinet members to concentrate on governance.
His words, “Notwithstanding the upcoming elections in February next year, we have continued to focus on the delivery of programmes and policies. We have been directed by our President, Muhammadu Buhari, not to be distracted by the noise of the electioneering campaigns.
“We have an ERGP (Economic Reform and Growth Plan) implementation team working hard to deliver on the plan’s outcomes.
“With the implementation of the ERGP we are better placed today to withstand the external shocks.”
Faced with inadequate resources, the minister said that the Buhari administration had been working hard to increase tax revenue, raising the number of tax payers from about 13 million in 2016 to about 19 million now, adding, “we are still exploring ways to bring in more tax payers into the net,”
Reacting to questions on the country’s economic growth target Udoma stated, ‘’In Nigeria, our initial projection was more than 3.0 percent growth this year, that was up from 0.8 percent in 2017. However, due to some oil production challenges in the second quarter, which are being resolved now as well as the reduced agricultural outputs due to some local communal conflicts between herdsmen and farmers, as well as some flooding in the agricultural belt, we have had to reduce projection for this year to 2.1 percent.
‘’But the good news is that we are taking actions to resolve those issues. We know that the IMF projection for Nigeria is 1.9 percent, even if Nigeria achieves only 1.9 per cent this year, I think that will be a very positive movement. The direction of movement in Nigeria is positive and encouraging.
‘’We are hoping to grow up to 3.0 percent in 2019 and for subsequent years, we hope to grow even faster.
‘‘We have been able to bring down inflation from 18. 7 percent in January last year, to 11.2 per cent this year. Our aim is to bring down inflation to a single digit by either next year or 2020.
In his presentation of the Outlook, the Director of Africa Department, IMF, Mr. Abebe Selassie, urged African countries to work assiduously to remain afloat in the face of the global financial challenges being created by the interest rates normalisation in the United States of America.
He said, “Recently we have seen quite a lot of pressure on the response of some countries which have been to use their foreign reserves to intervene.
“However, the pressure on the interest rates has to be seen as a Dollar-strengthening development rather than the countries’ currencies weakness.
“What they are doing is reducing their buffers from already low levels. Policy frameworks that are adapted to respond to this development is very important.”