President Muhammadu Buhari

The Nigerian leader, President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the Economic Sustainability Plan ESP recently introduced by the Federal Government if strictly implemented, would mitigate the impact of the economic recession and ultimately help the nation exit this challenge in no distance time.

The President also attributed the country’s slip into recession for the second time in five years to the severity of the global downturn occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Buhari, who was represented by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, to declare open the 26th Nigerian Economic Summit NESG in Abuja Monday with the theme: “Building Partnerships for Resilience’’, said that the decline in the nation’s Gross Domestic Product GDP came after 12 successive quarters of positive growth.

The summit was organised jointly by the NESG and the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

He however assured that all the programmes in the ESP are reliant on the private sector playing a key role in creating and conserving jobs and the production and delivery of services in agriculture, housing, solar power and digital technologies.

He added that the speedy pathway out of the current recession was to quicken the implementation of the ESP.

He also disclosed that the Federal Government National Economic Council, the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN and in partnership with the state governments is floating a N15billion Infraco fund that would boost infrastructure development in the country and thereby boost productivity.

“I am pleased to inform in this regard that we are working actively with the CBN, the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority and state governments under the auspices of the National Economic Council to design and put in place a N15 billion Infraco Fund, which will be independently managed.

“The Infraco Fund will help to close the national infrastructural gap and provide a firm basis for increasing national economic productivity and growth,’’ he said.

Buhari said that private companies in design, construction, logistics and finance were very much engaged in the nation’s infrastructural projects in power and rail as well as road and bridges.

While insisting that the coronavirus played a significant role in the country slipping, the President said the downturn caused by the pandemic included lockdowns, disruption in global supply chains, business failures and rising unemployment.

“We can all recall that during the lockdown, farming did not take place, businesses were closed; schools were closed as were hotels and restaurants.

 “The economy only began to recover when these activities resumed and if we are able to sustain the nearly three percentage point increase from the second quarter decline of minus 6.1 per cent, the performance in the fourth quarter could take us into positive territory,’’ he said.

 “Of course, an improvement in global economic conditions, including the restoration of global supply chains and resumption of exports and remittances, should enable a V-shaped recovery.

“We expect, in the same spirit of partnership, that the private sector will complement these efforts by making maximum use of the provisions of the ESP and the Finance Bill when it is passed by the National Assembly and also by retaining and creating jobs so as to keep people at work.

“In a similar spirit of partnership, private sector enterprises should also pay their due taxes,’’ he added.

While speaking on the theme of the summit, he said that partnerships remained essential to attract the resources for building a solid national infrastructural base.

He argued that as was evident when the nation was combatting COVID-19, partnerships were essential and also necessary for framing medium and long-term development plans.

He added that the government had always emphasised that the private sector had a key role to play in the efforts to build a more resilient and competitive economy as expressed in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed said that the current recession would be a short one, as government and key stakeholders were proactively working together to put in place sustainable measures to curtail and improve the situation.

She added that in spite of the recession, Nigeria had out-performed many economies in terms of economic growth.

Ahmed said that the Federal Government, in partnership with the NESG had been working together on the national implementation plans as well as the regional and local development plans.

“Since the inception of the NESG 25 years ago, it has become one of the largest annual gatherings dedicated to finding solutions to the challenges facing the Nigerian Economy.

Source: NAN