Govt targets four areas for growth in budget
To achieve a sustainable growth strategy, the Federal Government is considering focusing on four broad areas. These are: stimulating economic growth to achieve a real Gross Domestic (GDP) growth of 4.2 per cent in 2017; reducing the cost of governance and strengthening of institutions to combat corruption and ensure efficiency in public service; increasing government expenditure on infrastructure; and funding of the budget deficit and negative trade balance cost effectively.
The Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who disclosed this noted that the administration would not compromise the implementation of a robust budgetary package to revamp the nation’s parlous infrastructure, as a strategic measure to reset the country’s economy.
The minister, who spoke at a special breakfast meeting hosted by the Lagos Business School on Saturday said the government’s plan to reset the economy with structured borrowing, targeted investment and diversified growth, was on course.
She told her audience, which included captains of industry and members of the academia, that the nation “inherited a set of conditions that requires us to refine how we collectively work towards ushering in a new era in Nigeria.”
Pointing to the impact of falling global oil prices on the economy, Adeosun said: “In the past, we had the means but not the will. Now we have the will but we no longer have the money to invest. The safety blanket of oil has been ripped away, laying the poverty of Nigeria’s institutions bare.
“We have spent too many years tinkering at the edges of our institutions, our infrastructure and our economy and that the mistakes of the last 40 years have set our clocks back by decades.”
Setting out the government’s blueprint for growth, Adeosun said: “We must collectively adopt a blueprint that equips the future generations to be creative and dynamic, that allows us to articulate a vision of a Nigeria, with a strong educational foundation; rich in depth of knowledge with a breadth of skills, an expansive infrastructure capable of servicing the needs of a nation of 150 million Nigerians”.
In an hour-long presentation, the minister detailed what she described as an “expansionary budget for investment and growth,” telling the audience that “we must find the money and create a system that enables targeted expenditure, based on the nation’s priorities. This expenditure will be efficient and impactful, focused on creating wealth for the majority.”
Outlining N1.8 trillion in borrowing to invest in the priority areas of transport, roads, housing, power and health, the minister said: “We are committed to a countercyclical budget expenditure model. This has been a success in other nations, offsetting the risk of recession and creating an economy which is not based on either fragile consumer spending or over-reliance on oil.”
However, the minister warned those thinking the borrowing would open the door to renewed fiscal indiscipline, saying that she planned to continue her “aggressive programme of fiscal housekeeping.”
She added: “We must safeguard this borrowing, ensuring that the wastage within the existing systems are firmly addressed. We cannot mortgage our future based on a system that has failed us for generations. We must be careful in our borrowing and prudent in utilisation .
“We are a nation of entrepreneurs and our entrepreneurs need reliable infrastructure, skilled employees and transparent systems and regulation that support them as they grow. We are introducing sound policies and robust systems that will benefit the micro, small and medium enterprises.
“With courage, discipline and open minds we begin our journey to build an economy whose resilience is not controlled by oil prices, but by our determination to reset the economy and finally give our people the chance they deserve.”