By Joseph INOKOTONG
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma has said that the country’s economic situation is changing for the better as the macroeconomic environment is being stabilized and inflation rate trending downwards in the last two months.
According to him, government interventions, particularly in fixing the broken infrastructure, is making impact and there are positive signs that the economy is working its way out of recession this year unto a path of sustained inclusive growth and development.
The Minister, who was speaking on Tuesday at the Town Hall Meeting in Abuja organized to brief Nigerians on the achievements of the Buhari Administration in the last two years, pointed out that government is making progress in changing the economy and also changing the people’s attitudes.
He was optimistic that the economy will receive further boost as government rolls out the full implementation of the Economic Recovery and growth Plan (ERGP).
Apart from the policies and plans guiding the country’s economic trajectory, the Minister indicated that several infrastructural projects are on-going across the country and some are nearing completion; Government is drastically cutting costs and improving efficiency of service delivery; and the country is poised to attain food sufficiency in major agricultural products, particularly rice, by next year.
A lot of work, he added, is being done through the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) to improve the business environment with very encouraging responses from investors in the last few months.
Senator Udoma said President Muhammadu Buhari’s aim is to create a self-reliant country and people. “As the President says, ‘We will change our habits and we will change Nigeria”. A nation in which ‘We grow what we eat and consume what we make”.
He explained that the Federal Government has continued to hold frequent and extensive consultations with the private sector, NGO’s and various interest groups to build consensus on economic policies and programmes.
“We did this when developing the NERGP. We have also continued with the tradition of co-hosting the annual Nigerian Economic Summit. The 2016 Economic Summit was focused on ways of promoting ‘Made in Nigeria’ products. In addition, we have introduced the Quarterly Presidential Briefing with the private sector,” he explained
A statement signed by Mr. Akpandem James, Media Adviser to the Minister quoted Udoma as saying the Federal Government has intensified its collaboration with State Governments using the vehicle of the National Economic Council (NEC), for which his Ministry serves as the Secretariat.
The Ministry, he said, has successfully coordinated Donor Assistance Programmes, and a number of Cooperation Agreements have been concluded and signed with major bilateral/multi-lateral development partners.
Implementation of the Agreements, he pointed out, is being monitored to ensure alignment with national development priorities and aspirations; disclosing that altogether, the Federal Government has signed Financing Agreements with several development partners, including the European Union, DFID and USAID among others, amounting to over €194.5 million and $702 million.
The Minister said the Ministry, which serves as anchor for ensuring that normalcy returns to the North East Zone, has ensured effective harmonization of activities of relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and Donor Agencies targeted at improving service delivery. “We have also attracted more funding for the country from the Oslo International Conference on Global Humanitarian Situation to support IDPs in the North-East”, he added
He said the Ministry takes its monitoring and evaluation functions very seriously and has accordingly revised the National Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for effective monitoring and tracking of implementation of 2016 Federal Government capital projects and investments.
“This has improved transparency and value for money in the implementation of programmes and projects. The process involves physical inspection and impact assessment. We also ensure that fund releases for capital programmes are tied to the priority areas of the Administration as set out in the (Economic Recovery and Growth Plan) ERGP”, he explained.
The convener of the meeting and Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the idea of the Town Hall Meetings was conceived as part of the Ministry’s efforts to bridge the communication gap between the government and the citizenry and also keep them better informed of the policies and programmes of the Federal Government.
Ministers who gave their scorecards are the Budget and Planning Minister, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma; Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun; Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh; Transportation, Chief Rotimi Amaechi; Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola; Industries, Trade and Investments, Dr Okechukwu Enelama, and the Water Resources Minister, Alhaji Suleiman Adamu.