Public Affairs Experts, Economists Warn Incoming Government against Policy Loopholes

 Raheem Akingbolu

Public Affairs experts and economists have warned the incoming government against policy loopholes that can derail the administration.

They identified critical areas that have presently put Nigeria in bad shape, which they said, should be of major concern to the incoming government.

The pit holes indentified during a recent Webinar themed: ‘Setting a Fiscal Policy Agenda for The Bola Ahmed Tinubu Administration’, include; risk-unconscious over-dependence on hydrocarbons, poor policy, fiscal inefficiency and revenue leakages and misplaced priorities.

The third National Policy Dialogue webinar, which was organised by the Public Affairs Service of CMC Connect LLP, Perception Consulting, aimed to foster a national discourse on the fiscal policy direction of the incoming government especially in the areas of regulations, taxation, excise duties and other policies that are making the ecosystem unfriendly for business growth.

The keynote Speaker, who is an economist, Dr. Abiodun Adedipe, said: “The fiscal inefficiency, revenue leakages, misplaced priorities, risk-unconscious over-dependence on hydrocarbons, poor policy coordination, and counterproductive fiscal policies are the major reasons Nigeria is in a bad shape. However, I believe this discourse will serve as a platform to tell the incoming government the need to engage the private sector deeply in formulating and reshaping economic policies that will make Nigeria and the productive sectors bounce back, thereby promoting a better Nigeria.”

He further said: “What we are selling to Tinubu`s administration is to set an agenda for ourselves, to be in the top 10 economy in ten years time.”

Adedipe who elaborated on strategic directions for Bola Tinubu’s government, said in the immediate future, the incoming government should match non-oil revenue to recurrent spending, aggressively promote exports to the world market starting with African countries, strengthen domestic manufacturing, and interrogate the nexus between import and export tariffs.

Elaborating further, the policy expert and Chief Consultant at B. Adedipe Associates, recommended that the Tinubu’s government should ensure actionable, consistent and coherent fiscal, trade and monetary policies by promoting high level actions on policy coordination and ownership, unified voice on policy pronouncement, setting the right tone at the top, revamp reform on ‘Ease of Doing Business’ and evaluate policies based on deliverables. He espoused that the government must expand non-oil fiscal space, push for a tax/GDP ratio of 15 per cent and above, and align fiscal, monetary and trade policies.

In his own submission, the Corporate Affairs and Communications Director at Japan Tobacco International, JTI, Mr. Vivian Ikem, who was a panelist, spoke about issues on policy consistency, stating that inconsistency in the government policies can affect the drive of foreign direct investments. He urged the incoming government to ensure consistency of policies. He emphasised that the incoming government should ensure tight control of the illicit market and stop adulterated products from grey markets being dumped into the country. Nigeria, in its present state he said, remained a difficult place to do business, adding that the incoming government should endeavor to reform the current fiscal policy and the civil service.

Other panelists Uzo Odenigbo and Tilewa Adebajo, both submitted that the economy under the Tinubu’s administration should be data driven. According to them, data is key in comparative fiscal analysis with other markets, and in policy formulations. Adebajo advised that the incoming government should be people centric in its policy formulations. Oil subsidy, he stated, should not be removed at once. It has to be a gradual removal while refineries are being brought to optimal performance.

The former Ogun State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, and presently the Board Chairman of Odua Group, Bimbo Ashiru, advised the incoming president to be very altruistic in his appointments into key positions that are germane to the success or otherwise of his administration. The former banker wants Mr. Bola Tinubu to follow in the footsteps of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, by appointing Nigerians with capacity to run the economy irrespective of tribe, religion and party affiliation. He emphasised that the incoming administration should also prioritise agricultural transformation being the largest employer of labour and contributor to the gross domestic product of the economy.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, the moderator Mr. Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, founder and Lead Partner at CMC Connect LLP, stated that “to achieve optimal growth and broadly shared prosperity, monetary policy must complement physical goals.” Badejo-Okusanya enumerated key areas of failure of the Buhari’s administration, bringing out baseline facts and data on macroeconomic indicators from where Nigeria was in 2015 and where the nation is presently.

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