‘FG will Reset Economy to Tackle Negative GDP Growth Rate’

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By Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

As the latest statistics indicated that the nation’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate from 2.11 per cent in  the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2015  to -0.36 per cent in the first quarter (Q1 2016), the federal government  is to review and analyse the latest growth data for underlying issues it may not have anticipated.

The government’s strategy, THISDAY gathered, is to reset the economy towards the path of sustainable growth, with the N6.06 trillion 2016 expansionary budget being targeted to kick start the strategic programme of  infrastructure investment needed to unlock the significant potential of economic growth.

A top official of the government’s economic team disclosed that as expected, the economy has softened, adding that the current administration had previously highlighted what he described as the negative economic trajectory inherited from the previous government’s borrowing that was not invested for growth.

According to him, the government will review and analyse the latest growth data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) for underlying issues it may have not envisaged, noting that the expansionary fiscal budget being implemented this year will jump start “our strategic programme of  infrastructure investment needed to unlock the significant potential of our economic growth.”

The source acknowledged, however, that there will inevitably be a lag between the injection of the planned stimulus and the delivery of its outcomes but pointed out that the government remained far from being complacent.

He noted that the government was confident that the economic strategy it has begun would start to fundamentally address the structural challenges facing the economy.

“We believe that this approach will ensure the fundamentals and outlook for the Nigerian economy remain positive,” the source said.

When contacted on telephone yesterday on what the government is doing to stimulate economic growth and halt the slide in GDP rate, the Special Adviser to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Festus Akanbi, confirmed  that the federal government was set to review the growth data, but declined further comment.

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is to meet today and tomorrow to deliberate on topical issues affecting the economy, including negative GDP growth rate and skyrocketing inflation.

The NBS had at the weekend released the latest macroeconomic indicators with GDP growth rate sliding from 2.11 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year to -0.36 per cent, with the country appearing to be on a recessionary trajectory as it requires one more negative growth rate in the next quarter to descend into recession.