Ndubuisi Francis, Obinna Chima and Ugo Aliogo
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on the Economic Recovery Growth Plan Implementation (ERGP), Dr. Effiong Essien has defended the move by the federal government to engage Malaysian experts to drive the implementation of theERGP.
According to Essien, the decision of by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) was aimed at encouraging transfer of knowledge.
Essien disclosed this in Kano state at the weekend, during a two-day workshop for financial journalists organised by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).
He stated that the sourcing for Malaysian experts to support government’s efforts to fix the economy falls within the third level of the ERGP.
He added that once the foreign experts complete their work and go, they wouldthereafter leave the economy for Nigerians to use local content to build on what hadbeen established “then escalate the experience to the state and local government level.”
Essien explained that the ERGP implementation unit which was setup by thepresidency is manned by four industry experts, stating that the unit has prioritised the agricultural, transport, manufacturing and power and energy sectors.
Essien stressed that the government approach also focuses on sub-national linkages in which they are trying to see collaboration between the federal, state and local government levels and the multi-stakeholder approach.
According to Essien: “For the ERGP plan, the implementation unit needs to be able identify the bottlenecks and work towards consensus action in removing them. The implementation unit takes the role of a convener.
“The unit takes three overarching approaches in the implementation of the policy. We must mention that we sit at the intersection of policy, economics and getting things done on the ground. Therefore, we take a very neutral stance.
“The focus is on how we can create the enabling environment for the private sector operators to key into what the public sector has been doing badly. For instance, getting them to leave the market driven activities and allow them to bring in the experts into the vacant spaces of competition and experience. This is where the Malaysians experts come in to transfer knowledge and the first modelling of the focused gaps.”
He added: “After that, they (the Malaysians) will leave it for Nigerians to use local content to build on that then escalate the experience to the state and local government level.
“This is where we hope can draw in billions of dollars of investments to the public-sector activities. Therefore, that is the multi-stakeholders approach we are taking. But to be able to do that, we must find a way in de-risking investment because people are basically going to respond to signals If there are no de-risking institutions and layers of enablers.
“This is the aspect we are working on currently and mapping out issues. For instance, we are talking about access to finance, cost of finance and to be able to do that you need to have finance regulators in the group as a multi-stakeholders’ approach or pluralistic approach.”
The FEC recently resolved to engage foreign consultants from Malaysia to conduct a forensic study that will boost the implementation of the ERGP.
The meeting, presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, which approved N458million for the exercise, put the duration of the forensic study at three months to be undertaken in three phases.
The council had categorised the three phases of the study as pre-laboratory, laboratory and post laboratory stages, which it said would include the involvement of 100 persons from both the public and private sectors. The foreign consultants were expected to bring into the economic plan their international experience, which the council believes will enhance the credibility of ERGP.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma had said the consultants would conduct the forensic tests on power, transportation, gas, manufacturing and processing.
According to Udoma, the move will involve the evaluation of the growth plan in accordance with set targets and progress with detailed account of implementation including performance indicators.