By Michael Eboh & Emmanuel Elebeke
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. Zainab Ahmed, yesterday, disclosed that the Federal Government is identifying and exploring new sources of revenue to address the current shortage of funds for project development.
Speaking at a briefing to herald the Twenty Sixth Nigerian Economic Summit, NES#26, Ahmed disclosed that today, the greatest challenge facing the government was inadequate revenue to execute her numerous projects and other initiatives.
However, she noted that the government was concerned with creating a stable macroeconomic conditions and business climate that would keep transaction costs low, drive savings, investment and job creation, by ensuring a competitive economy.
“This is where the role of the government becomes critical in ensuring enabling policies and strategies are in place for the private sector to excel.
“As you are aware, the greatest challenge facing government is inadequate revenue to execute her numerous projects and other initiatives.
“New sources of revenue is being identified and explored. Coordination and cohesion among revenue generating agencies, is being improved,” she said.
The finance minister added that the closure of the country’s land borders had positively impacted the economy of Nigeria, especially as the country was closer to attaining self-sufficiency in rice production.
She said: “At the national level, the closure of the land borders is one of the boldest decisions ever taken by any administration to curb insecurity, smuggling and kidnapping. This has in a positive way impacted Nigeria as we are closer to attaining self-sufficiency in rice production than at any point in time in the country’s history.
“This spillover effect is also evident in other sectors such as manufacturing, livestock amongst others. This also provides an opportunity for the private sector to leverage increased local content and expand their businesses.”
She added that Federal Government was also working on operational, regulatory and legislative interventions to enable the country move to the top 100 on ease of doing business ranking, noting that governments across all levels will continue to initiate business-oriented policies and ensure adequate commitment to their implementation.
She said: “The effective implementation of government policies enabled Nigeria to move 15 places to 131st in 2020 from 146th in 2019 position on the ease of doing business ranking of the World Bank.
“As the nation awaits the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, the Finance Act and the Companies and Allied Matters Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) recently signed by Mr. President will transform the business environment and re-energize the private sector as the engine of growth of the economy.”
Also speaking, Minister of State, Finance, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, disclosed that this year’s Summit is unique, as it would be hosted at a point when Nigeria and the World economy is passing through a challenging period due to the impact of the COVID-19.
“It is hoped that the outcome of the Summit will further help enrich government plans in ensuring that the impact of the pandemic on the economy and the citizens is minimised. In this regards, relevant recommendations of the NES#26 will be mainstreamed into the medium and long term plans currently being developed by the Ministry and all the critical stakeholders including the subnational governments, private sector operators, civil society organisations, women and youth organisations and development partners,” he noted.
In his remarks, Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Mr. Asue Ighodalo, stated that this year’s summit was coming at a time when the country is experiencing fundamental shifts in the trajectory of its economic growth and development.
He said: “According to the last GDP Report released by the National Bureau of Statistics in August of this year, our GDP in real terms declined by 6.1 per cent (year-on-year) in second quarter 2020. This ended the three-year trend of low but positive real growth rates recorded since the 2016/2017 recession.
“However, the general import of that GDP Report is a confirmation that households and businesses in Nigeria have suffered significantly and are still suffering.”