Nigeria’s economy may suffer from over-dependence on oil – Okonjo-Iweala

Dr Ngozi Okonjo IwealaOscarline Onwuemenyi

05 November 2014, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has lamented the current over-dependence on oil by the country warning that the consequences may be dire unless efforts are made to diversify the source of foreign revenue.

Okonjo-Iweala who stated this at the ongoing Public Affairs Forum, in Abuja, said the present administration is working towards developing infrastructure and roads to encourage investments and for businesses to thrive.

According to her, “We are too dependent on oil, I said it at my Ministerial platform and now we all see that the price of oil is coming down, the quantity is also not as large as it used to be.”

The Minister therefore reiterated the need for Nigeria to lay more emphasis on generating non-oil revenues.

She said, “We must help the businesses in their setting up, in manufacturing, in agriculture, in other sectors; we must have that so that we can have a non-oil base to tax.”

She noted that the present administration has been doing its best to boost Nigeria’s non-oil revenue; especially in agriculture, infrastructure and other sectors.

Meanwhile, the Minister has noted that the country’s borrowing has reduced drastically under the current administration.

“By 2010, we borrowed N1.3 trillion to help finance our spending.

“We have brought it down from N1.3 trillion to N571 billion and we will continue to take it down even if it is by N1, we will continue trending down.

“Of course, the cost of debt is still high because of what we borrowed in the past,” she stated.

Speaking on the Nigeria Automotive Development Plan, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga said that within the last four years, a total of 62 reform programs had been carried out in the entire economy by the economic management team.

He said out of the 62 reforms, 12 were game changers that have helped to redefine the investment climate within the last four years.

For instance, he said there were only four auto vehicle manufacturers in 2011, adding that as of today, the country can now boast of 22, owing to the implementation of the auto policy.

He said: “In 2012, we did a lot of consultation on the policy, in February 2013; the automobile policy was approved by the Federal Executive Council. “Over 22 companies have signed with technical partners to produce cars in Nigeria.

“The number of auto vehicle manufacturers in 2011 was four, today we have 22.

“The number of investments that has come into the auto sector in ten years was $62m, in less than one year, we have attained more than $150m with about $300m coming in 2016.

“The number of universities offering automotive engineering was nil in 2011 but today we have four. In terms of capacity utilization, it was 40 per cent over the period.”

On progress so far made in the sugar policy, Aganga said in the implementation of the reforms in the sector, a total investment of $3.2bn had been made as against $100m investment in 2011.

He put the number of jobs so far created in the sector at over 80,000 as against 3,850 jobs created in 2011.

He said, “We did not have a national sugar plan in 2011, but now we do. The number of jobs in the sugar industry then was 3,850 but today we are looking at over 80,000.

“Investment in sugarcane of course was $100m then but now we are talking of $3.2bn.”

For the cement sector, the Minister said unlike in 2011 where the sector only attracted an investment of $9m with total jobs of about 600, the investment in the sector is now worth $15bn with about 2.2 million jobs.

The forum, which was organised by the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, had as its theme: “The Jonathan administration: Four Impactful Years.”

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