*From double to single digit, now targets 7%
*Private sector operators work out of meeting with ministers
*Describe consultation session as a sham
Hector Igbikiowubo & Oscarline Onwuemenyi
09 February 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Nigerian government has downgraded the Vision 2020 growth aspiration from an original double digit put at an average 13.8 percent to 7 percent.
The new 7 percent growth aspiration is contained in a statement released by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, the first in 25 years.
Meanwhile, it was gathered that several private sector operators and employers of labour worked out of a consultative session with the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma, describing it as a sham.
The original goals of Nigeria’s Vision 2020, compels the economy to achieve broad-based double-digit growth rates. During the vision period, the economy is expected to grow at an average rate of 13.8 per cent per annum, to be driven by the agricultural and industrial sectors over the medium-term while the manufacturing and service sectors are expected to drive the economy towards the end of the Vision period.
Nigeria’s economy is heavily dependent on exports of crude oil and has been hobbled by low global oil prices that have slashed government revenues and the availability of foreign currency.
In the third quarter of 2016, gross domestic product contracted 2.24 percent from a year earlier.
With inflation also at an 11-year high, frustration is rising, with protesters taking to the streets of major cities across the country on Monday to call for a change in government.
The 7 percent target for gross domestic product growth is part of a medium-term economic recovery plan that seeks to address some of Nigeria’s issues, the budget ministry said in a statement.
“Our goal is to have an economy with low inflation, stable exchange rates, and a diversified and inclusive growth,” Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma said at an economic forum, where he addressed private enterprise, according to the statement.
The plan’s priorities are agriculture and food security, energy, small businesses and industrialisation and stabilising the macroeconomic environment, the minister said.
“Nigerian growth faces various supply constraints including fuel, power, foreign exchange, and even business unfriendly regulation,” the statement said, adding that the recovery plan would seek to address these issues.
While speaking with SweetcrudeReports some of those who worked out of the consultative session noted that questions they raised regarding exchange rate and intra-government agency communication were not answered.
Some of the private sector participants also noted that even though they had been invited to a consultative session, strangely, the committee set up by the office of the vice president including the minister of budget and planning as well as the minister of Industry, Trade and Investment had already prepared and submitted a report without taking input from them.
“We wonder why we were invited in the first place. Especially since they had already put together and submitted a report,” one of the private sector participants wondered.