James Emejo in Abuja
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, yesterday identified the goals of the country’s proposed development plans as boosting infrastructure development and supporting the reduction of cost of production of goods and services, among others.
She said these were critical for diversifying the economy and revenue base, poverty reduction and job creation.
Ahmed said the proposed plans, which she described as fully-national given the participation of stakeholders from all strata of the economy in its formulation would also focus on addressing constraints that hampered industrialisation and transformation of the economy.
She spoke yesterday in Abuja at the inaugural meeting of the National Steering Committee (NSC) for the preparation of the Medium Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) 2021-2025 and Agenda 2050, which is the co-chair.
Ahmed said though the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) agreement had opened competition among African countries, as the continent gradually becomes borderless, only countries with actionable development plans would make the greatest impact on the new dispensation.
She, therefore, charged the steering committee to ensure that the new plans facilitate improvement in product complexity and mapping in order to acquire greater market share of the product complexity space to diversify revenue base.
She said the plans must also support the attainment of global agendas, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the AU and ECOWAS Agenda so the country could remain relevant among the comity of nations.
The minister added that various regions of the country have been pursuing different economic cooperation within their regions and hoped that the proposed blueprint would take into consideration the comparative advantages available to regional blocs to build a virile Nigeria.
Ahmed said the implementation of previous and existing development plans, including the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) 1986-1980 and the three-year rolling plans, National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS), National Vision 20: 2020, Seven-Point Agenda, Transformation Agenda (2011 -2015), and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) by various administrations had contributed to Nigeria’s development.
However, she said the country is confronted with another opportunity to develop new plans to drive government policies in the next decade.
Ahmed said: “Clearly and from all indications, the objective of the plans had not changed from the previous plans.
“It is all about diversifying the economy and revenue base, reducing poverty, wealth and job creation among others.
“To achieve these objectives and also play significant roles in the global markets, the plans must pay serious attention to the development of infrastructure and reducing cost of production of goods and services.”
The minister, however, stated that the lofty goals of Vision 2020 had been truncated partly by crude oil price crash due to shocks in the international market in 2016, a situation that led the economy into a recession with negative GDP growth.
Also speaking at the inauguration, the Founder of Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Mr. Atedo Peterside, who is the chairman of the NSC, urged members of the committee not to be discouraged by the country’s sordid history of abandoning various development plans.
He said previous plans under past administrations had only disappeared on the shelves, noting that economic blueprints were hardly implemented.
Peterside, who had participated in the development of several plans under the administrations of the late President Musa Yar’Adua and former President Goodluck Jonathan, said the NSC should see the new task as an opportunity to create a movement to liberate and develop the country.
He said the committee should forget the past, and seize advantage of the country’s present economic predicaments and launch a bold plan to achieve economic success.
He added that just because previous plans failed does not foreclose further attempts.
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, also said the terminal date for the existing development plans remained December 31, 2020.
He said some remarkable feats had been recorded though the country was yet to attain the 20th position in the world economy and grow at double-digit as envisaged by current plans.
He said: “It is, however, safe to state that the implementation of ERGP pulled the economy out of recession unto the path of economic growth as the economy experienced eleven quarters of consecutive GDP growth since exiting recession. The GDP grew from 1.91 per cent in 2018 to 2.27 per cent in 2019 but declined to 1.87 per cent and 6.10 per cent in the first and second quarter of 2020 respectively due to the impact of COVID-19.”