FG: Nigeria Economic Growth Must Outpace Its Population Growth

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Dike Onwuamaeze

The federal government has disclosed that it is targeting the attainment of economic growth rate that would be faster than the country’s population growth rate in order to enable the economy to recover fully from the effects of COVID-19 pandemic and eradicate poverty.

This was disclosed yesterday in Lagos by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, during the ‘2021 LCCI Presidential Policy Dialogue’ which was meant to create the platform for Nigeria to lead the discussion on integrating African economies into the global market. The dialogue was organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).

Osinbajo said: “We need a growth rate that is faster than our current population growth so that at least there will be enough to go round.

“There is need for Nigeria to achieve high and sustained economic growth in order to create opportunities for our people. And to overcome poverty, we must promote productivity and value addition and move away from the spell of managing limited resources to producing and creating more in a competitive and sustainable manner.”

He noted that the federal government forestalled the disaster that the COVID-19 would have wrecked the Nigerian economy with the launching of the economic stimulus plan of N2.3 trillion in 2020 and has gone beyond this with the recent introduction of a mid-term economic plan for 2021. to 2025.

“It is clear to us that if we must achieve accelerated growth then we must opt for a new strategic direction and policy orientation. It is with this objective in mind that the Federal Executive Council recently signed up on the new medium term national development plan, from 2021 to 2025.

“The strategic objectives of the plan include establishing a strong foundation for a diversified economy that would invest in critical infrastructure and enabling human capital development.

“The implementation of the plan will be sustained by fiscal and monetary measures, including the review of subsidy regime and a better functioning foreign exchange market.

“The cornerstone of this strategy is boosting productivity, focusing on value addition as guiding principle for all sections such as agriculture, manufacturing, tourism etc.

“Our aim is to focus on resource enrichment and value addition and of course the development of the local industry so that we can create wealth all around the mineral and agricultural value chain,” he said.

Osinbajo added that the first and foremost goal of the 2021 to 2025 development plan is job creation, therefore, “all policies and programs are viewed from the lens of the jobs, both direct and indirect, it would create. This could also influence the incentives that could be given to sectors in the economy. Sectors that will create jobs are those to be supported and given the right kind of incentives.

“The focus must be on value addition whose implementation will help to create good paying jobs.”

The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was represented at the policy dialogue by the Lagos State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Sam Egube, said that the current season the country found itself would not allow Nigeria to continue to do things traditionally and still hope to get a different result.

The governor said: “Natural resources are not enough to bring our desired national transformation. Nigeria must engage the collective mental attitude of our people to transform our natural resources and its potentials into reality. It is a choice that we have to make by pulling up our bootstraps and synergies as a team that is willing to earn its position among the global committee of nations.”

Speaking in the same vein, The Group Chairman of Nigeria Exchange Group, Mr. Abimbola Ogunbanjo, stated the need for clearly defined policies and the necessity to paying attention to technology in order to leverage on digitalisation,

He said: “Public policy making is foundational and essential to economic growth and development as the productivity of the private sector is linked to prevailing policies.

“We recognise the importance of policies in shaping the fortunes of private industries. Secondly, it is clear to us that technology will be the driver of advancement for years to come.”

The President of the LCCI, Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, urged the government to focus on building a thriving and sustainable economy that would enhance “social inclusion, poverty reduction and enlarging agricultural output for food security.”