By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC), chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has asked the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) for input into its report on how best to approach the current economic challenges facing the country, THISDAY has learnt.
It was gathered that the development followed a teleconference meeting held last Thursday between the committee and President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic advisory council to harmonise positions on various aspects of the former’s recommendations before submitting its final report to the president.
It was learnt that during the teleconference, the presidential advisory team was provided with copies of reports of various subcommittees of the committee on proposals being made to fortify the economy and create more jobs.
THISDAY gathered that the presidential advisory council is expected to revert to the Osinbajo committee next week.
The two economic teams had earlier had their first interactive meeting where both sides highlighted their concerns and observations.
A member of the presidential advisory council told THISDAY at the weekend that the Osinbajo committee also gave some of the reports of its subcommittees to the presidential advisory members for their perusal and input.
“The various sub-committees whose reports were received include the sub-committee on finance and stimulus package headed by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed; the one on job creation headed by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige; and the sub-committee on easing of COVID-19 lockdown headed by the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola.
“Fashola’s committee report on easing of lockdown is being implemented in line with the president’s broadcast but there are other aspects of the recommendations that need the input and advice of the presidential council before they are forwarded to Mr. President,” he explained.
According to him, the presidential advisory team is expected to consider the reports by the various sub-committees on job creation, economic diversification and mopping up of revenue sources in the country and reverting to Osinbajo’s team next week.
“Both sides will meet again to fine-tune the report before presenting it to President Muhammadu Buhari. The idea is to enable the economic advisory team to make professional inputs into the report and possibly suggest ways of realising the set goals,” he said.
One of the major recommendations of the Osinbajo committee is the upward review of the proposed N500 billion economic stimulus package meant to cushion the debilitating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, THISDAY gathered that as part of the efforts to create more sources of revenue and reduce the current huge unemployment burden, the Osinbajo committee is proposing a new inter-ministerial initiative to scale up development of the agricultural sector.
To this end, four federal ministries – Agriculture; Labour and Employment; Youths and Sports and Women Affairs are to synergise and also coopt states that are interested in the implementation of the multi-sectoral agricultural venture.
Apart from promoting massive investment in farming, the main intention of the new drive is to promote industrialisation using agriculture as the cornerstone.
THISDAY gathered that the affected ministers will be meeting to draw an action plan towards achieving the objectives.
Also, an inter-ministerial team is to be sent on advocacy visits to states to secure governors’ support in the implementation of the agricultural initiative tailored to generate millions of jobs for Nigerians.