Ndubuisi Francis and Udora Orizu in Abuja
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, has said President Muhammadu Buhari will at the banquet hall of the State House in Abuja on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, officially launch the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). focus labs which is one of the initiatives undertaken to ensure the full and effective implementation of the plan.
The minister who spoke at the press briefing in Abuja thursday, stated that over the last seven weeks, members of the ERGP implementation team have been working to map and understand the projects that exist across six core sectors of the economy and the stakeholders that are involved.
According to him, “We cannot continue to do things the same way and expect different results. Accordingly, we are embarking on many initiatives to fast track the changes we are determined to achieve. One of these initiatives is the Malaysian style focus labs which we are conducting initially in three key areas which are reflective of the five execution priorities of the ERGP. The labs will be conducted in agriculture and transportation, power and gas, and manufacturing and processing. The labs will be conducted by the relevant ministers responsible for those sectors i.e the Ministers of Trade and Investments, Mines and steel, Power, Works and Housing, Agriculture, Transportation and the Minister of State Petroleum Resources.
“The ERGP was launched by the president in April 2017. The plan, as you all know, is our comprehensive medium-term plan and it runs from 2017 to 2020. The ERGP is a product of an extensive consultative process with the stakeholders across the country including the National Assembly, the state governments, our development partners, academia, top economists and development experts and most importantly private sector. It sets out government.
“We have set up an ERGP implementation Team (ERGP/IT) in this ministry which is responsible for organising and facilitating the labs. They will be supported by Malaysian consultants, PEMANDU, who will share with us their experience in conducting a similar very successful process in Malaysia. In labs we will be able to among other things identify projects which will drive catalytic growth that will contribute in increasing private investments and create new jobs for Nigeria (Entry points projects), develop clear implementation plans for each EPP with identified budget, key individuals responsible for those activities and accountable lead ministers along with key performance indicators, breakdown silos to harness private-public partnerships, align stakeholders to execute the plans and build trust and credibility between the public and private sectors.
“The focus labs structure has never been used before in Nigeria so I would like to give some explanation of how it will work. Basically what will happen is that we will invite potential and existing investors both foreign and Nigerian, who may be interested in investing in any of the three areas we are focusing on to attend the closed-door sessions. The focus labs will involve stakeholders from the public and private sectors working together in a single environment to think out practical and workable solutions for delivering the kind of results Nigeria needs.”
He further explained that the plan was intended not just to get us out of recession which we have successfully exited but to put us on the path of the strong diversified, inclusive and sustained growth.
The plan is driven by five principles; removing the constraints to growth, allowing market to function , leveraging the power of the private sector by harnessing the dynamism of business and entrepreneurial nature of Nigerians from MSMEs to large domestic and multinational corporations, promoting and strengthening national cohesion and social inclusion and upholding our core values of discipline, integrity, dignity of labour, social justice, religious tolerance, self reliance and patriotism.
“The central objective if the labs will be to bring in private capital to finance projects across the country. Our aim is simply put to raise the level of productivity in Nigeria, we want more things to be grown in Nigeria, made in Nigeria and more opportunities created for Nigerians to be able to work, this is what the focus labs are all about.” Udoma said