President Muhammadu Buhari….As Buhari wants Nigeria’s quick exit from under-development
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
THE Presidential Economic Advisory Council, PEAC, yesterday, advised the Federal Government to move away from multiple exchange rates to a unified currency exchange rate.
PEAC, in a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, also told the the government to do all that was necessary to continue to ease the environment of doing business in the country.
This is even as the President appreciated the outstanding support and guidance provided by the PEAC, which he described as a ‘tutorial’, urging the members to do more to help the country exit “our very terrible state of development.”
Speaking during a virtual audience with members of the council, President Buhari said: “We are a country characterised by a large population of poor people, serious infrastructure deficit, lack of housing and a vulnerable economy, now haunted by the COVID-19 pandemic and collapse of the oil sector and its effect on the Gross Domestic Product, GDP.”
PEAC, while making a presentation to the President, commended the administration for implementing several of its recommendations, even as it presented the government with a number of tough choices to make in order to put the country’s economy on a higher growth path.
Chairman of the council, Prof. Doyin Salami, who led the presentation, specifically expressed delight with the on-going review of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, and the 2020 Budget, in view of the disruptions caused by COVID-19; the deregulation of the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS; approval for the implementation of the Oronsaye Report on the need to rationalise and restructure federal ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs, as well as the adjustment of the exchange rate of the Naira.
He, however, noted that more needed to be done to increase efficiency, coordination and accountability on the part of MDAs.
The PEAC welcomed the Economic Sustainability Plan, ESP, produced by the Economic Sustainability Committee, ESC, headed by the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, and adopted by the Federal Executive Council, FEC, but warned that in the implementation of the N2.3 trillion spending plan, there could arise a number of problems, which, if unattended, could hamper smooth implementation.
The committee advised, among others, that the ESP should be implemented, using existing institutional and administrative structures; attention be paid to sources of funding to avoid inflation; ensure that priorities, targets and time limits be set for all projects, to make for their completion within the 12-month life-span of the ESP.
It noted that where this was not achieved, such projects should be rolled into the new Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP II.
The PEAC recommended that the ESP must promote ‘export-oriented production strategies’; ensure use of local resources; curtail post-harvest losses in agriculture now put at between 40-60 percent and, above all, make the economy attractive to “non-debt” private sector-funded investment, in order to cut the rising cost of debt services.