The Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC) has expressed concern about the increasing level of poverty and widening inequality gap in the country.
The group, therefore, urged the government to as a matter of urgency take steps to improve governance and build a sustainable and formidable economy.
The Chamber pointed out that the delay in passing the 2019 budget would affect economic projection for the year.
This was disclosed at the February Breakfast meeting held in Lagos, with the theme: “2018 Economic Review: Expectations for 2019.”
According to the stakeholders, even though the economy exited recession in 2016, it was still faced with stagflation, based on the high rate of unemployment, double-digit inflation, and sluggish growth.
Predicting a slow economic growth in 2019, the immediate past Director-General, West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM), Prof. Akpan Ekpo, said there was likely to be a three per cent growth rate, noting that with everything being equal pre and post -election period, the Nigerian economy was expected to grow by one per cent this year.
Ekpo, noted that the current growth rate at two per cent is sluggish and fragile, stressing the need for economic managers to properly implement the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), to ensure that the economy is on a growth trajectory.
He said: “Growth rate at three per cent is not good enough as Nigeria must maintain a double digit growth rate in the next 10 years to move Nigerians out of the poverty line.”
According to him, the oil story should not describe the economy, while the quality of governance over-time should ensure continuous improvement in the standard of living of most Nigerians in 2019 and beyond.
He said there was also an urgent need to prioritise development at sectors that would generate jobs.
“Looking at the economic variables; the Nigerian economy is still primitive. The economy did not do well in 2018, very few people moved out of the poverty line. The two per cent growth rate is positive, but nothing to cheer about,” Ekpo added.
He urged the federal government to expedite action on the passage of the 2019 budget, adding that the budget is an economic tool deployed by both local and foreign direct investors.
He pointed out that as a result of the forthcoming elections, foreign portfolio investments had declined sharply in the country.
Also Speaking, the President, NACC, Toyin Akomolafe, quoted the World Bank to have said the growth of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product has remained largely unimpressive, and still exhibits the same pattern of the pre-crisis period of 2017.
He assured that the Chamber would continue to promote the development of trade, commerce, investment and industrial technological relationships between the public and private sectors of Nigeria and the United States of America.