By James Emejo
The Minister of State for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, yesterday listed the focus of the Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) 2021-2025, to be unveiled by the end of the first quarter of 2021, to include the elimination of poverty and enhancing job creation, rather than accelerating Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth alone.
Besides, the medium-term plan will review the public sector contract system as well as pay attention to regulatory issues.
Agba said yesterday in Abuja at the 19th edition of the Joint Planning Board (JPB/ National Council on Development Planning (JBP/NCDP) meetings, that the strategic plan would help the government to deliver better living conditions to Nigerians.
The theme of the gathering is: ‘National Development Planning in Nigeria: Issues and Challenges.’
The minister stated that the plan will be the first to implement the Nigeria Agenda 2050 and play a key role in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 and African Union Agenda 2063.
The plan will also support the implementation of the nine priorities of the government, which are to stabilise the economy; ensure energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products; achieve agricultural and food security and improve transportation and other infrastructure.
Others are to drive industrialisation; improve health, education and productivity; enhance social security and reduce poverty as well as fight corruption and improve governance.
He said the intention of the government was also to stabilise budget and government expenditure, diversify the economy and close fiscal deficit as well as to adopt proactive trade policies, prioritise self-reliance and home-grown solution, stressing that infrastructural development will not be downplayed.
According to him, governance and public sector capacity will be strengthened by ensuring transparency in the utilisation of resources.
Agba said though the implementation of the Nigeria Growth and Recovery Plan 2017-2020 had helped the country to come out of the 2016 and 2020 economic recessions, more efforts would be required on a sustainable basis to ensure economic stability and to strengthen the families and businesses affected by the COVID-19 lockdown.
He expressed concern about the implementation of the previous development plans, which were marred by the lack of synergies between the state and federal governments.
As a result, he said achievements of NV20: 2020 and ERGP over the last 10 years and five years respectively, were “dwarfed by lack of synergies in the design and implementation of the national plans and state plans.”
He stated that this also explained the “reason we were unsuccessful to address the booms and bust syndrome associated with the mono-cultural nature of our exports and revenue”.
He said even though the ERGP helped to exit economic recessions, the country did not grow more than 0.75 per cent and 3.19 per cent on average during 2017-2020 and 2010-2020 respectively, due to lack of coordination between the state and federal governments
The minister said: “This could also be attributed to our collective inability to address domestic growth constraints.
“The plan implementation was also affected by political and policy changes, less emphasis on inter-sector collaboration, weak link between the plan and annual budget and absence of coordinating institutions for plan implementation.”
He said the country also had issues with poor business regulations, over-dependence on oil, bad governance and policy design failures.
The minister said the government wanted to ensure that the basic needs of the states were well captured in the successor plans as this would be a major strategy to ensure that the government at the state and local levels mobilised for the implementation of the national plans.
He added that a quick assessment of the Technical Working Groups (TWGs) reports has shown that the states are partially missing in action despite their participation at various group meetings.
Agba said the workshop was aimed at harvesting additional perspectives of the states to ensure that the programmes and implementation of the sustainable development objectives of the medium-term plan at the federal level aligned with the development aspirations at the state level.
He added that the new national plan is expected to provide the coordination between the levels of governments, stressing that “if we do not use this plan to solve the right problem of our country, we would all fail in our quest towards improving the wellbeing of our people.”