ABUJA – Federal government, Wednesday, said that it would determine the size of the loan it is expected to take from the World Bank only when the 2017 budget is passed into law and that President Muhammadu Buhari will be launching an economic recovery plan soon
This was even as it had also started the process of fine-tuning the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan, EGRP. It will be recalled that FG started the loan process to finance the 2016 budget deficit but stop mid day.
The government in 2017 renewed interest in the loan but said the amount to borrow would become clearer only when the year’s budget is passed into law as the funds would be used to finance the 2017 budget deficit.
President Buhari Fielding questions from State House Correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council, FEC at the presidential Villa, Abuja, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma said the figure of the loan was dependent on the amount the National Assembly would approve in the fiscal document.
“The figure will depend of the (2017) budget approved by the National Assembly,” he said. Meanwhile, briefing newsmen earlier on what transpired at the FEC meeting, the Minister said that Council deliberated extensively on the Economic and Recovery Growth Plan.
The plan is expected to be launched soon by President Muhammadu Buhari. According to him, the plan would be comprehensive of all the plans of government. He said: “We had extensive discussion on Economic Recovery Growth Plan, ERGP.
The growth plan is still being fine-tuned. But a lot of inputs were made by Council Members and it is virtually ready for the President to launch. However, we are doing some fine-tuning and during this period we also do some final consultation before the president launches the plan.
“The plan that is being approved is expected to drive Economic recovery and lay the foundation for longer economic growth as well as improve the competitiveness of the Nigerian economy.
The goal of the plan is to have an economy with low inflation, stable exchange rate and a diversified inclusive and sustaining growth.
“The Proposed initiatives outlined in the plan are designed to address the country’s poor competitiveness, improve business environment and attract investment and infrastructure, especially power, roads, rails and ports. Jobs and social inclusion are also key focused areas of the plan.”
He also stated that the immediate execution priorities of the plan were as follows “agriculture and food security; energy, particularly power and petroleum product sufficiency; industrialization-focusing on small and medium size enterprising; transportation which is very, very important as an infrastructure requirement to get the economy really moving; stabilization of the micro-economic environment.”
According to him, these were the underpins focused on governance and delivery to the successful implementation of the plan.
He said: “We spent a lot of time looking at implementation. That’s the key and one of the means of ensuring implementation is to have a delivery unit which will be in the presidency and the key principles of the plan are tackling constraints to growth; leveraging the power of the private sector; promoting national cohesion and social inclusion; allowing market to function; approving the sore value for which this country stands.
“So, these are the principles. They are still being fine-tuned. Reviews are being incoperated and at a date to be announced soon, the president will launch the plan. Let me add that there will be additional consultations that we agreed in cabinet that we will be making and one of the people we will be consulting will be labour before the plan is finalized.
“We came in to meet very difficult economic circumstances and we have been working hard. When you talk about the plan, it is a document. What goes into the plan are things that we have working but now want put everything in a single plan. But elements of the plan are already being implemented.
“As you know, the 2017 budget is under the guidance of the plan. It is just we want a complete document so that any stakeholder dealing with Nigeria internally and externally, there will one document that you can see anything that you want find out about what government thinking is on the economy and every aspect of it.
“It is all in a document. We started with this implementation in the 2016 budget. When the plan is launched, you will see that everything that was done in that 2016 budget will be in that plan.
“We have launched agricultural plan which is part of it. We have also launched solid minerals which we have announced. So, each of the sectors will be in one document so that nobody can say they don’t know what our plan is in any sector.
“In fact, those people who are interested, they do know our thinking is any of the sector because at every occasion, we have said it.
So, I don’t think, the document will be a surprise. We believe in ease of doing business. What we stand for is to turn this country around.”
Asked while the government was still on planning process 2 years after taking office, the Minister said planning was necessary to accommodate other needs as they arise.
“Government came in with a clear mandate. If you remember it was on three principles: one, tackling corruption, restoring security and fixing the economy. As you know, we are still working on all the three. We were clear on what our plans were.
“However when you come and you implementing, you have to get all information that you actually need physically and see from it and get out what you want there. As regards budget releases, if you look the past budget, capital releases have never been released in full because of funding constraints. Actually, we are not doing badly right now in terms of capital budget releases.
“Because of the funding constraints, the budget has a deficit, I traveled with Minister of Finance and CBN governor to market out eurobond. As you can see, the Eurobond was oversubscribed by over 8 times, so the funds are coming in, there is more stability in th Niger-Delta, so more money are coming in”, he said.