Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The federal government has explained that it decided to make investment in infrastructure a priority because it holds the key to freeing the economy from recession.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, who stated this, noted that massive investment in infrastructure is the surest way to get the country out of recession.
According to him, “There is no doubt that government-led investment in public infrastructure is one of the fastest ways to get an economy out of recession.”
He spoke in Abuja yesterday at the nineth Award Winners Lecture of the forum of laureates, Nigerian National Order of Merit.
Udoma said the federal government was looking at various strategic ways of restoring revenue and getting the economy back on the path of sustainable growth.
A statement issued by his Media Adviser, Akpandem James said the minister pointed out that in spite of the revenue shortfalls experienced during the 2016 budget year, N753.6 billion has so far been released for capital expenditure, targeted principally at the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, as well as the Ministry of Transportation.
“This, in fact, exceeds the aggregate capital expenditure budget for 2015.”
He told the gathering that government has been having difficulties funding the budget because of the disruptions of oil production in the Niger Delta, adding that notwithstanding current challenges, government must find ways to increase the level of its spending.
“At one time, almost half our production was shut in because of pipeline vandalism. This compounded our economic situation and pushed us into the current recession we are experiencing in the country. We are looking at ways to restore our revenues and get the economy out of recession and back on the path of sustainable growth,” he said.
Udoma explained that the resultant epileptic income stream also affected exchange rate stability, another issue which has to be addressed if the country is to succeed in its development drive.
According to him, exchange rate stability has been a major issue which the federal government has been grappling with as a result of the reduction in foreign exchange earnings caused by the fall in crude oil exports.
The federal government, he said, would welcome every genuine idea from experts on how to address these economic challenges, stressing that it is looking forward to receiving the various papers and recommendations from the lecture, some of which might be directly integrated into the National Recovery and Growth Plan, currently being tidied up.