10 January 2016, Abuja — To ensure transparency in the operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, the International Monetary Fund, IMF, has urged the Federal Government to publish its finances monthly.
The corporation’s finances have over the years been shrouded in secrecy, leading to suspicions and allegations of corruption and undercutting of government’s revenue.
In a statement marking the end of her visit to Nigeria, the IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, stressed the need for the NNPC to be run with greater openness.
She complimented the government on its efforts to address corruption, stressing that the rule of law would be crucial in reducing constraints to the country’s growth.
She, however, lamented that poverty, inequality, and unemployment levels remained too high and the negative effects of challenges thrown up by the Boko Haram insurgency.
Largarde who spoke extensively on the visit to Nigeria said: “My visit to Nigeria has been extremely fruitful and informative. Nigeria is the largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the largest population, and its important role at the regional level has become increasingly recognised. The economy is well diversified, no longer dominated by agriculture and oil, with services accounting for almost half of Gross Domestic Product(GDP), including a significant home-grown film industry and innovative startups from fashion to software development.
“Nigeria has also experienced a decade of strong growth, averaging 6.8 per cent a year. 1n 2015, however, growth is expected to slow to about 3 1/4 per cent, with a slight recovery in 2016. In my meetings with the authorities, we discussed how to maintain economic progress while making the transition towards more inclusive and sustainable growth.”
She stressed the need for Nigeria to deal with the difficulties presented by falling oil prices, reduced emerging market demand, and tightening global financial conditions.
“The non-oil sector has also been affected and financing for investment is hard to come by,” she observed. She went on: “Against this background, we discussed a range of policy recommendations related to improving the competitiveness of the Nigerian economy.
These include focusing on the critical area of infrastructure, where power, transportation and housing are especially key. They also include identifying ways to broaden the revenue base, particularly to create additional fiscal space to offset the impact of lower oil prices; and the need for careful decisions on borrowing, public spending, and managing the cost of fuel subsidies – with a view to safeguarding priority social sectors and the most vulnerable groups. This will require a package of measures involving business-friendly monetary policy, flexible exchange rate policy, and disciplined fiscal policy, and the implementation of structural reforms.
“As well as exchanging views with government officials, I had very interesting meetings with a group of women leaders and representatives of business and banks. I also visited the Mother Theresa Children’s Home charity organisation, which provides care, housing, and education to vulnerable children. As always, I found it inspirational to engage with Nigeria’s young people. I would like to thank the government and people of Nigeria for their welcome and warm hospitality. The IMF remains Nigeria’s committed partner as it moves forward to face the challenges of the future.”
*Emeka Anuforo – Guardian