Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
A civil society organisation (CSO), Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), has advised the federal government to align economic policies towards export-led growth instead of the fixation on import substitution, which it described as a basic minimum.
CSJ argued that exports will help improve the value of the naira and reposition the fiscal and external accounts.
In the mid-term economic report of the Buhari administration issued by its Lead Director, Mr. Eze Onyekpere, the group noted that the economy has not been managed in the most efficient and reasonable manner to enable the federal government to fulfill its obligation of improving the standard of living of Nigerians.
“Majority of Nigerians are now living below the poverty line and life has become so miserable and intolerable for the majority.
“Thus, federal government of Nigeria needs to take concrete and targeted steps towards rejuvenating the economy and inclusively ensuring that all hands are on deck for this national assignment.
It, therefore urged the Buhari administration to rejig the key personnel of the government, and place round pegs in round holes. “Also, appoint all remaining board and policy positions in all parastatals for a full complement of staff and needed competencies to run the government,” it said, asking the government to fully implement the Executive Orders rolled out by the acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
While calling for the release of the full details of all statutory transfers, CSJ also canvassed the harmonisation of fiscal and monetary policy positions and reinforce the Economic Management Team to fulfill its true purpose.
The organisation further called for a rethink of the privatisation of the power sector so as to bring in competent and capable investors with financial capacity, especially at the distribution companies (DISCOs) so as to bring in new resources to turn around the sector.
“This is imperative for the improvement of capacity utilisation in industries, beefing up manufacturing and general economic turnaround of the country,” CSJ said.
It also advised the government to submit a comprehensive borrowing plan with details, cost benefit analysis and details to the National Assembly – who are enjoined to review same and give approval based on sustainability, equity and national interest.
Other recommendations of the CSO included a call to split the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing into three distinct ministries and appoint transformational professionals with core competencies to run the ministries.
“Repackage the National Housing fund as the best option and cheap source of funds for housing finance and ensure that the major qualification for benefitting from the Fund is being a contributor to the Fund.
“Give a sense of belonging through requisite appointments and include the South-East corridor in the National Railway Expansion Plan.
“Law enforcement agents should be made to ensure the protection of settled farmers and the criminal elements among herdsmen should be brought to justice.
“Immediately start the preparation of the 2018 federal budget and ensure that it gets to the National Assembly on or before the first week of September this Year_’ CSJ said.
It equally advised the government to prepare and disseminate all pending budget implementation reports within one quarter from the date of this mid term review.
“For equity, to improve access to credit and cut down the cost of borrowing, reduce the spread between deposit and borrowing rates to no more than 500 basis points corridor.
“Provide direction and incentives for local investors to put money into key sector of energy, low cost housing, steel, transport, etc,” the group also recommended.