By Michael Eboh and Emmanuel Elebeke
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. Zainab Ahmed, revealed on Thursday that the Federal Government is identifying and exploring new sources of revenue to address the current shortage of funds for project development.
Speaking at a briefing to announce the 26th Nigerian Economic Summit, NES # 26, Ahmed revealed that today, the biggest challenge facing the government is inadequate revenue to run its many projects and other initiatives.
However, he noted that the government was concerned about creating stable macroeconomic conditions and a business climate that would keep transaction costs low, boost savings, investment and job creation, by ensuring a competitive economy.
“This is where the role of government becomes critical in ensuring that enabling policies and strategies are in place for the private sector to excel.
“As you know, the biggest challenge facing the government is insufficient revenue to carry out its many projects and other initiatives.
“New sources of income are being identified and explored. Coordination and cohesion among income-generating agencies is being improved, ”he said.
The Finance Minister added that the closure of the country’s land borders had had a positive impact on Nigeria’s economy, especially as the country was closer to achieving self-sufficiency in rice production.
She said: “At the national level, closing land borders is one of the boldest decisions ever made by any administration to curb insecurity, smuggling and kidnapping. This has had a positive impact on Nigeria, as we are closer to achieving self-sufficiency in rice production than at any other time in the country’s history.
“This spillover effect is also evident in other sectors such as manufacturing, livestock, among others. This also provides an opportunity for the private sector to take advantage of more local content and expand their businesses.
He added that the Federal Government was also working on operational, regulatory and legislative interventions to allow the country to rank among the top 100 in the ease of doing business rankings, noting that governments at all levels will continue to initiate policies geared towards the businesses and ensuring adequate commitment to its implementation.
She said: “The effective implementation of government policies allowed Nigeria to go 15 places to 131 in 2020 from 146 in 2019 on the World Bank’s ease of doing business rankings.
“While the nation awaits the approval of the Petroleum Industry Bill, the Finance Law, and the Business and Related Affairs (Repeal and Reconstruction) Law recently signed by Mr. President, it will transform the business environment and revitalize the private sector. as an engine for economic growth ”.
Also speaking, the Minister of State, Finance, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, revealed that this year’s Summit is unique as it would be held at a time when Nigeria and the world economy are going through a challenging period due to the impact. of COVID-19.
“The outcome of the Summit is expected to further help enrich government plans to ensure that the impact of the pandemic on the economy and citizens is minimized. In this sense, the relevant recommendations of ENE # 26 will be integrated into the medium and long-term plans currently being developed by the Ministry and all critical actors, including sub-national governments, private sector operators, civil society organizations, women’s and youth organizations and development partners, ”he said.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Mr. Asue Ighodalo, stated that this year’s summit took place at a time when the country was undergoing fundamental changes in the trajectory of its economic growth and development.
He said: “According to the latest GDP Report released by the National Statistics Office in August this year, our GDP in real terms decreased by 6.1 percent (year on year) in the second quarter of 2020. This put an end to the three annual trends of low but positive real growth rates recorded since the 2016/2017 recession.
“However, the overall significance of that GDP Report is confirmation that households and businesses in Nigeria have suffered significantly and continue to suffer.”