Wale Edun: Economic Stabilisation Package Underway to Support Businesses

*Says Tinubu has achieved relative economic stability 

*Explains why minimum wage negotiations are difficult

*Says FG has paid N7.3tn Ways and Means 

*Admits food insecurity a global challenge
*Oil and gas sector to attract $7bn investment

Ndubuisi Francis and Olawale Ajimotokan  in Abuja

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun has disclosed that an economic stabilisation package is underway to support the real sector of the economy and boost production.
The minister, who made the disclosure during an interview on Channels Television, revealed that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu would unveil the package soon following series of meetings/consultations between top government functionaries, the Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN) and other relevant stakeholders.

The package appears to be government’s response to the recent exit of many multilateral manufacturers from Nigeria, citing harsh economic environment.
Speaking on the harsh economic situation Nigerians have had to contend with, particularly in the last one year, the minister admitted that the reforms policies have a telling effect on the people.

He noted that food inflation is “worrisomely high’ at close to 41 per cent, but assured that wet season and dry season harvests will taper the development.
According to him, Tinubu had in the first year of his administration achieved relative stability in the economy, adding there is package of intervention measures, including those in agriculture which needed to be redoubled.
The economic reforms were done to draw the nation back from the edge of financial bankruptcy, he said.
The minister stated that the government has continued to implement some intervention programmes, including conditional cash transfers to the most vulnerable people who receive N75,000.

On the issue of macroeconomic indicators, which have continued to head south, Edun noted that “they are necessary fallouts of the measures taken by the government,” saying that despite the negative impact of the reforms, “the economy is actually growing.”
According to him, while the economy is going in the right direction, what was required was to stay the course.
In a veiled acknowledgement that Nigeria is currently facing a food insecurity crisis, the minister said the country was not the only one in that bracket.
According to him, food insecurity is a global phenomenon, adding that about 30 per cent of the world’s population are food-insecure.
“Food security problem is a worldwide phenomenon. 30 per cent of the world population is food insecure. We have a situation in Nigeria which we are focusing on.

“I think the issue here are areas that are critical to Nigerians–provision of food and provision of cheaper transport and the creation of jobs. Those are being focused on,” he said.
Responding to a question as to whether or not the time President Tinubu made his pronouncement on subsidy removal was auspicious, Edun stated that it was necessary and long overdue.

Lending credence to his position, he said the federal government has totally revamped its revenue due to the reform measures as leakages had been plugged.
On government’s usual recourse to the suggestions of Bretton Woods institutions– the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), Edun stated that the view of Nigerians is that they do not give sufficient support to the development process.
The Minister stated that while Nigeria does not agree virtually with their prescriptions, they have continued to provide concessionary financing that cannot be secured elsewhere.

On whether the government is still paying subsidy on fuel, the minister would not provide a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ response.
However, he explained that the administration met oil production at 1.2 million barrels per day (mbpd), which he said, is now about 1.7 mbpd.
He noted that to the extent that fuel is imported, the more supply of forex that the country has, the lower the price of fuel.
On foreign direct investment,  the minister explained that the reform policies have continued to yield positive outcomes, noting that this year alone, the oil and gas sector alone was expected to attract $7 billion in foreign investments.

He disclosed that one other positive achievement of the Tinubu administration was to pay N7.3 trillion Ways and Means debt.
Asked to explain why it was difficult to resolve the lingering Minimum Wage controversy, the minister said that this was because the fixing a minimum wage is not the exclusive preserve of the federal government.
He said states, the organised private sector and other stakeholders are involved.

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