Ahmed: FG to Reexamine Economic Fundamentals at NES#26

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Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed

James Emejo and Folalumi Alaran in Abuja
The Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, has said the 26th Nigerian
Economic Summit (NES#26) will provide an opportunity to rethink the country’s economic fundamentals and deliberate on the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

She said it was important that Nigeria’s top policy makers and business leaders proactively converge and engage to address key questions that presently confront the country.

Speaking at a media briefing for the NES#26, which is scheduled to commence from October 26–27 in Abuja, the minister added that the summit would emphasise the urgency to strengthen multi-stakeholder alliances between governments and businesses in co-creating a national strategy that would usher the country in the next decade.

She said: “It will be a big conversation for public and private sector stakeholders to reflect on the state of the Nigerian economy, rethink the country’s economic fundamentals and deliberate on the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic.”

With the theme: “Building Partnership for Resilience,” Ahmed pointed out that the summit will be underpinned by three pillars, namely collaboration, execution, and impact adding that these pillars will resonate through all the sessions at with a strong emphasis on reinforcing the role of sub-nationals as the frontiers of economic growth and development as the government strives to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

The minister said the summit was timely, saying the government is currently developing a Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP), 2021-2025 and the Nigeria Agenda 2050-which are the successor plans for the National Vision 20:2020 and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) which expires in December.

She further stressed that the government working on operational, regulatory and legislative interventions to enable the country move to the top 100 on ease of doing business ranking.
She added that Nigerian governments across all levels would continue to initiate business-oriented policies and ensure adequate commitment to their implementation.

She said as the country awaits the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, the Finance Act and the Companies and Allied Matters Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) which was recently signed by President Muhammadu Buhari into law would transform the business environment and re-energise the private sector as the engine of growth of the economy.

She further maintained that the greatest challenge facing government is inadequate revenue to execute its numerous projects and other initiatives adding that new sources of revenue were being identified and explored while coordination and cohesion among revenue generating agencies is also being improved.

Ahmed also maintained that the closure of the country’s land borders was one of the boldest decisions ever taken by any administration to curb insecurity, smuggling and kidnapping.
She Said: “This has in a positive way impacted Nigeria as we are closer to attaining self-sufficiency in rice production than at any point in time in the country’s history.

“This spillover effect is also evident in other sectors such as manufacturing, livestock amongst others. This also provides an opportunity for the private sector to leverage increased local content and expand their businesses.”

The Chairman, Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), MR. Asue Ighodalo, said the summit would be held at a turning point in the history of country.
He said: “We have celebrated remarkable moments, we are weathering difficult times, but we will emerge stronger together.”

According to him, even though Nigeria is currently the largest economy in Africa, “every Nigerian will acknowledge that there is still a lot of work to be done as we strive for regional and global competitiveness”.

He said the NESG was proud to be playing its part in process, including the convening of annual Nigerian Economic Summits since 1993, the provision of platforms for sustained public and private sector engagements, and the provision of strong support in policy agenda setting.

Also speaking at the briefing, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, expressed optimism that the outcome of the summit will further help enrich government plans in ensuring that the impact of the pandemic on the economy and the citizens is minimised.

He said relevant recommendations of the NES#26 would be mainstreamed into the medium and long term plans currently being developed by the ministry and all the critical stakeholders including the subnational governments, private sector operators, civil society organisations, women and youth organisations and development partners.