Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun has called on Nigerians to be patient with the Muhammadu Buhari administration as it battles to stimulate the economy again.
Speaking yesterday on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, the Adeosun said the damage done to the Nigerian economy will require some painstaking efforts to remedy.
She said it was against this background that the Federal Government’s recent visit to China can be considered a huge success as it afforded the country the opportunity to borrow from the Chinese EXIM Bank at a low interest rate and for the long term to improve rail and road transport infrastructures.
The money, according to her, will be used to support the transport sector, especially the rail sub-sector and roads across the country to further boost the economy.
According to her, the revamping of the rail system in Nigeria will be a great boost to the economy as several agrarian communities have for many years, wasted much of their produce forlack of access to modern transportation.
“Today, several farmers’ produce rot away. They can’t be sold because there are no rail or good means of transportation from their villages to the markets to sell them. Take for instance, tomatoes.
They are highly perishable. They need to be quickly transported to where they will be sold. But since there are no rails or efficient transportation linking the villages to the cities where they are needed, they perish. Today, we import tomato paste from China, yet we have tomatoes in Kano. But with good transport system, we can compete and export. We are heading towards a planned economy as I’m optimistic that the budget will be passed and we will run better,” the Minister explained.
Adeosun further said the Buhari administration would be spending much money to create jobs, even as she justified the recent presidential pronouncement that only Ministers or Permanent Secretaries can enjoy business class seats while other top civil servants will fly economy class tickets.
The move, she explained, was to cut down on government spending, pointing out that in 2015, about N19 billion was spent on roads construction and maintenance nationwide, while travels alone gulped a whopping N64 billion.
“We can’t afford to waste money the way we were doing in the past. We are already getting discounts from airlines.
There is ministerial debit cards to monitor Ministers’ spending, because we are moving towards cashless economy.
We are also planning expansionary of fiscal policy to spend more money so that the economy can grow.
“With regards to manufacturing, we want the banks to lend to the private sector. We don’t want to crowd out the private sector.
That is why we are also going out to borrow from foreign lenders so that the private sector can borrow from the domestic market.”