James Emejo in Abuja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday said the present administration is committed to ensuring that Nigerians enjoy an improved living standard which is comparable to what currently obtains in developed countries.
Speaking at the opening of the 60th Nigerian Economic Society (NES) annual conference in Abuja, themed: “Economic Policies and Quality of Life in Africa,” the vice president said the federal government was “committed to this solemn promise.”
He predicated his optimism on what he described as the high macroeconomic returns envisaged from key policy initiatives of government.
Osinbajo commended the NES for organising the conference, noting that the “progress we seek in our lives can only be achieved when anchored in credible economic development agenda at all levels of government.”
Represented by the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, Osinbajo added that the theme of the conference was consistent with national development priorities which stemmed from government’s determination to address the economic and social challenges facing the country.
He said proper articulation and effective implementation of policies would help in the effective delivery of the dividends of democracy, stressing that the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) had been developed in response to the economic challenges at the beginning of the Buhari-led administration specifically to address inherent challenges and ensure inclusiveness.
The vice president noted that in order to create a more inclusive society that enhances the quality of life, government had continued to implement social investment programmes.
Among other things, he said, the current administration has initiated the single window project which provides data to all trading partners and special investors, a move which he said would in no small measure enhance the ease of doing business in the country.
He added that government is making efforts towards revitalising the textile industry, stressing that the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, working closely with relevant stakeholders, had commenced the data gathering process in this regard.
He said: “This conference couldn’t have come at a better time than now when the current administration is in the process of developing a successor long term and medium term development plan for the country.
“In order to create a more inclusive society that enhances the quality of life, government has continued to implement social investment programmes. The sum of N500 billion has been appropriated annually for the scheme since 2016. This reflects the continued determination of government to pursue an inclusive society and achieve a pro-poor policy.
“Policies such as the N-Power scheme have seen over 500,000 graduates and 26,000 non-graduates engaged. Under the national Home-grown Feeding Programme, as at March 2019, over 9.5 million school children across 30 states are being fed…the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme has seen to the disbursement of $1.71 million loans to small businesses across the 36 states and the FCT.
“Over 297,973 households in 26 states across the country are benefiting from the conditional cash transfer scheme. Let me commend the NES for organising this conference and state the fact that progress we seek in our lives can only be achieved when anchored in credible economic development agenda at all levels of government.”
Osinbajo said government had in July completed and published the 2019 survey of micro, small and medium enterprises for intervention by government and other stakeholders, adding that “We are also working with several stakeholders to support MSMEs in all sectors for capacity building and credit.”
He also said the current administration was formalising artisanal and small scale mining operations to integrate their activities into the formal economy.