Retreat: Economic Recovery Plan to Lay Emphasis on Implementation

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Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja

The National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan scheduled for launch later in the year will lay more emphasis on policy implementation, monitoring and evaluation so as to ensure speedy attainment of envisaged goals.

This was one of the major indications at the National Economic Retreat which ended in Abuja at the weekend, one of the technical experts who attended the retreat told THISDAY in Abuja.

The retreat which featured Nigeria’s economic and multiple technical experts drawn from both the public and private sectors as well as the academia, were assembled to fine-tune government’s economic policies and contribute ideas towards the production of an expansive and all inclusive medium term economic plan (2017 -2019),

Under the guidance of the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo-led Economic Management Team, the Ministry of Budget and National Planning (MBNP) is currently developing Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), which a source said would present a coherent summary of Nigeria’s short- and medium-term economic plans for the period, 2017-2020. The ERGP intends to build on the existing Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP), which was an interim plan developed in April 2016.

In the foreword to the SIP, President Muhammadu Buhari had promised Nigerians that the federal government would prepare a fuller and more comprehensive medium-term plan by end -2016.
However, in the course of 2016, Nigeria also slipped into a recession, creating what an expert described as added urgency to develop a plan which provided short-term initiatives to re-invigorate the economy.

The ERGP, according to our source, will fulfill this dual goal of identifying short-term recovery initiatives and also presenting a medium-term growth plan.
‘’The ERGP will focus on five broad areas namely: macroeconomic policy, economic diversification & growth drivers, competitiveness, social inclusion & jobs, and governance & other enablers,’’ the technical expert who attended the retreat told THISDAY.

‘’Macroeconomic policy will discuss how we better coordinate our fiscal and monetary policies; and also identify initiatives to improve revenues, to reduce costs, and achieve greater macroeconomic stability.
‘’Economic growth and diversification will look at short- and medium-term initiatives to drive growth in the non-oil sector, especially in agriculture, manufacturing, solid minerals, and services.

‘’Competitiveness will identify specific measures to improve Nigeria’s business climate, and also drive investment in the power and transport sectors. The ERGP will also suggest ways in which we can leverage private sector capital to invest in our infrastructure.

‘’Social inclusion and jobs will identify social programmes which can be implemented by the government to support the poor and the vulnerable.

‘’Governance and enablers will examine a range of cross-cutting issue—including governance, security, human capital development, coordination with States – which will be needed to ensure success of the ERGP.’’

He said there would be a major emphasis on implementation and monitoring and evaluation of this ERGP, adding that given the current challenging economic environment, the government will consider setting up a special delivery unit (with a “war room”) to drive implementation of the ERGP.

The technical expert further stated that the plan would have a big emphasis on implementation, saying each group was encouraged to look at implementation, how the federal government can do things differently.

He also said there would also be serious emphasis on monitoring and evaluation because the document that the federal government is going to produce would not just be a document, it would be an action plan.

He pointed out that after a very rich and extensive conversation, “We have our work cut out for us and we now have the major building blocks for Nigeria’s economic recovery and growth plan.”
The five thematic groups set out are macro, diversification and growth, competitiveness, social inclusion and jobs, and governance and enablers.

In the area of macroeconomic policy, the source added that the need to ensure coordination of fiscal and monetary policies was stressed.

He added that under the economic policy the federal government also indicated that the country have to develop fresh specific initiatives around a number of themes, which include revenue improvement, cost reduction and stabilising the major monetary indicators.

On Economic diversification and growth, he said: “We have indicated and agreed that we should aspire to a minimum of seven per cent growth by 2020, and that we should expect a V-shaped economic recovery. Why seven per cent We always thought that 10 per cent is the magic number for growth rate, but we are being reasonable given where we are today; the 10 per cent may not be achievable in this time horizon.

‘’But we will strive to get something even better than the 10 per cent; the seven per cent is the minimum we should set for ourselves. I think the seven per cent is realisable. We should focus on agriculture, on manufacturing, on solid minerals and on services.”

In competitiveness, attention was focused on the business environment, power and transport infrastructure where the Minister said there was need to develop further ideas on how to get private sector investments in infrastructure.

Referring to governance and enablers, the technical experts whom attended the retreat indicated that there was need to address the various cross-cutting issues: governance, security, human capital, coordination with states.

According to him, “With states and local governments we need better coordination; and we will at the end of this exercise be having some interaction and consultations with the state governments because you cannot talk about developing agriculture at the federal level since the land is in the states.

‘’You can’t talk of improving ease of doing business at the federal level alone because land acquisition, all the things that are required to build factories, all are in the states.”
The recommendations made during the retreat are expected to be incorporated into the national economic plan.

“The plan will be very granular and actionable. As indicated earlier, we will have additional consultations with State governors, development partners, National Assembly, Economic Management Team and the Federal Executive Council,’’ the source added.

He promised that everything would be done before the final document, which would be announced by the president, assuring that this would be out before the end of this year.
THISDAY gathered that a draft document would be available in early December and formally launched by the President before the end of the year.

Following the launch, the report is expected to be actively discussed with Nigerians and the international community via the local and international media, and at international fora such as at the World Economic Forum etc.