*’No threat to FG’s ability to pay salaries’
*FG, states to have more money to share as tax receipts Improve
*ECA Stands at $3.93 billion
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
Minister for Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, has assured that Nigeria would likely get out of recession by the third quarter of the year.
He also allayed workers’ fear over the ability of the Federal Government to pay their salaries following revelation that the economy has stagnated.
Admitting that the economy had technically slipped into recession, Udoma said the government was working hard at it and that it should pick up by September.
Saying measures are being taken to address the issues involved, he declared: “We expect that by the third quarter we will start to pick up and we expect to finish the year in positive territory; that is what we are expecting. We expect to be marginally positive by the end of this year.
The minister said the economy was expected to grow again from the third quarter into the fourth quarter.
“But by next year we will now start to pick up and we will have much more growth next year.”
Udoma, who briefed journalists at the end the 69th National Economic Council, said that there was no risk to the ability of the Federal Government to pay workers’ salaries.
He said: “We have paid all salaries; the federal government has always been paying its salaries, and there is no risk whatsoever that there is going to be a situation where the federal government will not pay salaries.”
Udoma, who also accepted the fact that Nigeria was in recession technically, said however, that the economy would start to grow by the end of the third quarter.
He said the year had been very tough, adding that even though government expected the fall in oil prices to affect the economy, it did not expect the destruction caused by Niger Delta Militants.
He said: ”Recession is basically when you have two quarters of negative growth. We had a first quarter of negative growth and we are still waiting to get all the figures for the second quarter which has just ended in June.
“The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) will be giving us all the figures but if, as we suspect, the second quarter is also negative, then of course technically you could say that we are in recession if those figures turn out to be so.
“But even if we are not, the situation in the economy right now is one that of course we are addressing.
“Some of it was expected; some of it was not. We did expect the low oil price but we did not expect the level of disruption that we got in the Niger Delta, such that oil production went down and we are not likely to achieve the 2.2 million barrels per day because it went down to 1.2 million barrels per day, a little over about 1.3 million barrels per day.
“So you can imagine the impact.”
Further details later