The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, said the Federal Government was committed to get Nigeria out of economic recession before the end of this year.
Udoma said this while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of a meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
He was joined at the briefing by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello.
Udoma said to achieve the government’s aim, there was the need for the National Assembly to pass the 2017 budget on time so that the implementation could start in earnest.
He stated, “We are determined to get the economy out of recession before the end of this year and the 2017 budget is structured to do just that.
“That is why we are anxious to get the budget passed so that we can begin the implementation and begin to take all the steps we need to get the economy out of recession.”
The minister said he briefed the FEC on the recently released third quarter 2016 GDP and full year reports by the National Bureau of Statistics.
He added that he also informed the council of the release of the Economic Recovery Growth Plan, which is already on the ministry’s website as well as that of the Budget Office of the Federation.
“We look forward to the early passage of the 2017 budget so that we can fast-track the implementation of the plan. As you know, the plan fed into the 2017 budget. So many of the initiatives in the plan are reflected in the budget,” he stated.
With regards to the NBS report, Udoma recalled that the economy contracted by 1.3 per cent in the fourth quarter, which he said was lower than the previous quarter, an indication that Nigeria was already beginning to recover even though it was still in recession.
He said the overall result was better than many people had projected.
The minister stated, “The IMF report had thought the GDP for 2016 was going to be -1.8 per cent and it turned out to be -1.5. So, that is better than expected, but we are not out of the woods. It is encouraging but we have to continue to do more to make sure that we get the economy out of recession this year.
“We are encouraged but we are even more energised to put in more efforts in agriculture, which is doing very well, to do even better. We will put in more efforts in solid minerals to make sure that our infrastructure is revamped, because that is what will stimulate our economy if we continue in this way.
“You saw yesterday (Tuesday) that the Acting President went to break grounds for the railway from Lagos to Ibadan all the way to Kano.”
Udoma said the ERGP focused on restoration of growth, investing in people and building a competitive economy.
He listed the five priority areas of the plan to include stabilising the micro economic environment; achieving agriculture and food security; ensuring energy sufficiency; improving transportation infrastructure; and driving industrialisation with focus on the Small and Medium-scale Enterprises.