President Muhammadu Buhari has said the current economic recession requires out-of-the-box solutions to steer the country on the path to recovery
The president also hinted that some ministries and agencies will get less allocations in the 2017 budget than they received in 2016 while some will get more.
Speaking at the one-day retreat on the economy yesterday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, with the theme: “Building Inter-ministerial Synergy for Effective Planning and Budgeting in Nigeria”, Buhari noted that the theme is very apt and timely, especially as the government is in the process of developing the 2017 budget.
According to him, over the years, there has been a mismatch between planned targets and budgetary outcomes at the national and sectoral levels.
Buhari observed that the federal MDAs had not also benefited significantly from working together and building consensus around common national objectives and this has impeded the growth and development of the country.
Buhari said, “Given that this retreat is a lead-up to the 2017 Budget, my expectation is that we will come out of these sessions with a determination and common position on how to have improved synergy amongst the various ministries and departments for the effective formulation and implementation of the 2017 budget.
“I also trust that the breakout sessions will enable you to discuss extensively amongst yourselves the details of the four sub-themes and come up with practical solutions on the way forward in order to come out with a set of prioritised projects and programmes that will fit into the 2017 Budget.
“In this regard, let me inform you that because of the need to focus on our key priorities, some ministries may get significantly less capital allocation than they received in 2016, while others may get significantly more.”
Buhari noted that the retreat was coming at a critical time in the nation’s history when the Nigerian economy is in a recession, with significant downturn in performance in various sectors.
“It is with regard to the importance of this retreat that I decided to sit through the first part of the session, to listen to the views from experienced economists and development experts on how best to implement our plans to rid the country of its oil dependence and to diversify the economy and bring the country out of the current economic recession,” he said.
The president asserted that this is in line with the administration’s determination to lay a solid foundation for growth and development as outlined in the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) of the Change Agenda.
“You may notice that some key non-spending agencies, such as the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), the National Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and the National Pension Commission (PENCOM), are participants at this retreat,” he noted, adding that this deliberate inclusion underscores the commitment of this administration to leverage on private sector resources, through Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and other arrangements, in order to augment the scarce budgetary resources at their disposal and to accelerate investments in building critical infrastructure.
He added: “Indeed, the challenges we face in the current recession require out-of-the-box thinking, to deploy strategies that involve engaging meaningfully with the private sector, to raise the level of private sector investment in the economy as a whole.”
Buhari expressed confidence that the level of private investment will grow as his administration is determined to make it easier to do business in Nigeria by the reforms it is introducing under the auspices of the Presidential Committee on Ease of Doing Business.
He reiterated that the government will continue to strategise on how to turn the current challenges into opportunities for the nation and especially for vibrant youths on whose shoulders lies the future of the nation.
“This is why we have embarked on measures and actions that will open up the opportunities we have seen in the power, housing, agriculture, mining, trade and investment, information communication technology (ICT) sectors, tourism, transport and other sectors.
“I wish to reassure our teeming youths that this government would remain steadfast in its effort to ensure greater progress and prosperity for you,” he added.
While government is taking the lead in the task of repositioning the economy for a change in the country’s fortunes, Buhari said his administration cannot achieve this completely by itself.
“We will need, and we ask for the support and cooperation of the private sector’s domestic and foreign investors, the states and local governments, the National Assembly and the Judiciary as well as all well-meaning Nigerians in this important task. We are confident that, working together, we shall succeed.”
Buhari expressed hope that that the cabinet members will learn from the experiences of the resource persons and facilitators on how to prioritise their sector programmes and projects to bring the country out of the current economic recession and place it on the path of growth and development.
He advised ministers and other senior government officials present to actively participate in the second technical session which, he believed, would provide them with deeper insight into the complex issues that would open opportunities for them to identify critical priority projects and programmes for the 2017 Budget.
Speaking to State House correspondents at the side-lines of the event, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, noted that the federal government wanted to make sure that, as a cabinet, it had the synergy to look at the priorities for the government for the 2017 Budget and make sure that in the light of the current economic situation, the budget is well structured to move the country back on the path of growth.
On her part, Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, sympathized with the people of Nigeria on the current economic recession but noted that the government was determined to turn things around.
“We have said it before that we knew we were going to go into a very difficult period. We had not anticipated the impact of the much awaited crisis which, of course, is built on our revenue which is down significantly.
“We have a credible plan and that plan is based on the need to invest in our infrastructure – and each of the experts spoke on that, that it was the only solution for Nigeria to take us out of this situation, and we are working on that,” she stated.