Exit From Recession Excites FG, Senate …Makarfi Says ‘Statistics Not Reality’

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L-R: Consultant Spine Surgeon, Brain and Spine Surgery Consortium (BASS), Dr Biodun Ogungbo, Rivers State Chairman, National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners and President, Rotary Club of Port Harcourt Down Town, Dr Peterside Sofiri S, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, UPTH, Port Harcourt, Dr Eyimina Philip, Physiotherapist, Optimal Health Centre and Consulting Physiotherapist, Zitadel Medicals and Diagnostics Limited, Port Harcourt, Okafor Chukwuebuka and Director of Administration, Zitadel and Diagnostics Ltd, Mrs Eno Don- Cookey, at the Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Campaign to mark 2017 World Spinal Cord Injury Day at Zitadel in Port Harcourt, yesterday.

The Federal Government has welcomed exit of Nigeria from recession, but with caution and optimism.
It said it would continue to drive economic growth by vigorously implementing the Economic Recovery & Growth Plan (ERGP) launched earlier this year by President Muhammadu Buhari.
A statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Mr. Laolu Akande said National Bureau of Statistics broke the news.
He said: “The overall economic plan and direction of the administration has resulted, among others, in sustained restoration of oil production levels.’’
The sustenance, he explained, was made possible because of the enhanced security and stability in the Niger Delta.
He backed up his statement with that also released by the Economic Adviser to the President, Dr. Adeyemi Dipeolu, on the analysis carried out on 2nd quarter 2017 economic performance of National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
“The figures released by NBS for the second quarter of this year (Q2 2017) show that the economy grew by 0.55% from -0.91% in Q1 2017 and -1.49% in Q2 2016.
“This in effect means that the Nigerian economy has exited recession after five successive quarters of contraction,’’ Dipeolu said.
This positive growth was attributable to both the oil and non-oil sectors of the economy, he said.
Growth in the oil sector which has been negative since Q4 2015 was positive in Q2 2017 as it rose by 1.64% as compared to -15.60 in Q1 2017; an increase of up to 17 percentage points.
“This improvement is partly due to the fact that oil prices which have improved slightly from the lows of last year have been relatively steady as well as the fact that production levels were being restored.’’
According to NBS, the non-oil sector grew by 0.45% in Q2 2017, a second successive quarterly growth after growing 0.72% in Q1 2017.
“This increase which was not quite as strong as it was in Q2 2016 reflects continuing fragility of economic conditions.
“However, given that nearly 60% of the non-oil sectors contribution to GDP is influenced by the oil sector, growth in the oil sector will help boost the rest of the economy.
“The positive growth seen in agriculture when the rest of the economy was contracting was maintained at 3.01% which is encouraging especially if seasonal factors are taken into account.’’
Manufacturing growth, he said, was also positive at 0.64% and although lower than the previous quarter’s growth of 1.36%, it was a noticeable improvement over the -3.36% experienced in Q2 2016 and a continuation of the turnaround of the sector.
Solid minerals which remained a priority of the Administration also continued to grow and in Q2 2016 by 2.24%.
Generally, industry as a whole grew by 1.45% in Q2 2017 after nine successive quarters of contraction starting in Q4 2014.
“This positive development was somewhat overshadowed by the continued decline in the services sector which accounts for 53.7% of GDP. Nevertheless, electricity and gas as well as financial institutions grew by 35.5% and 11.78% respectively in Q2 2017.
“The GDP figures give grounds for cautious optimism especially as inflation has continued to fall from 18.72% in January 2017 to 16.05% in July 2017.
“Foreign exchange reserves have similarly improved from a low of $24.53 in September 2016 to about $31 billion in August 2017.’’
“In the same vein capital importation grew by 95% year-on-year driven by portfolio and other investments but also notably by foreign direct investment which increased by almost 30% over the previous quarter.
“Foreign trade has also contributed to improving economic conditions with exports amounting to N3.1 trillion in Q2 2017 while imports which increased by 13.5% amounted to N2.5 trillion in the same period. The overall trade balance thus remained positive at N0.60 trillion.’’
The analysis shows that unemployment remained relatively high but job creation was expected to improve as businesses and employers increasingly respond more positively to the significantly improving business environment and favourable economic outlook.
“Besides, as key sectoral reforms in both oil and non-oil sectors gain traction, the successful implementation of ERGP initiatives such as N-Power and the social housing scheme will boost job creation.
“Food inflation also bears watching as it has remained quite high and volatile due mostly to high transport costs and seasonal factors such as the planting season.
“Investments in road and rail infrastructures, increased supply and availability of fertilizers and improvements in the business environment should contribute to the easing of food prices.’’
Dipeolu said that the end of the recession was welcomed but economic growth remained fragile and vulnerable to exogenous shocks or policy slippages.
Similarly, the 8th Senate, yesterday applauded the report by the National Bureau of Statistics indicating that Nigeria’s economy has officially exited recession.
The Senate in a statement by Chairman of its Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, stated that it was truly commendable that after five consecutive quarters of contraction, the economy grew by 0.55 per cent in the second quarter of 2017.
Abdullahi also stated that the improved performance of the trade, manufacturing, agriculture and oil sectors was an indication that with carefully aligned policy and legislative interventions, Nigeria’s economy could thrive beyond current forecasts and expectations.
The statement partly read, “The Senate received Q2 NBS economic report with great excitement. We are delighted that government’s response to the economic recession has begun to yield tangible results.
“The public will recall that in the days following the announcement of the 2016 recession, the Senate initiated steps and tabled 21 recommendations that it submitted to the executive for immediate action. We also listed out economic priority bills, many of which have now been passed, or at the final stage.
“We are also happy to note that many of the economic recommendations, specifically in the areas of retooling our agriculture and trade policies were adopted. This shows that the ‘all hands on deck’ approach was necessary from both branches of government.”
Abdullahi further noted that although the nation was now out of the recession, the Senate remained committed to seeing that the unemployment rate and high cost of living in the country were brought down.
He added, “The rising unemployment in the country is an issue that is of much concern to all of us. Additionally, the rising cost of food prices and basic services in the country still affects millions of households. This is why we will continue to work on our laws, specifically in the areas of access to credit to promote more opportunities for small business owners; and opening up more sectors to private sector participation, so that there will be more competition in our markets — which will lead to lower prices.
“We will also continue to work with the executive to ensure that our policy and legislative objectives, specifically as they relate to the economy, are well aligned.”
However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged Nigerians not to see every statistics as an indication of reality, following yesterday’s report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that the nation has exited the economic recession that worsened living conditions in the past two years.
The NBS had in its 2017 second quarter report yesterday indicated that the Nigerian economy has exited recession, having notched up a growth output of 0.55 per cent in the oil, agriculture, manufacturing and trade sectors.
According to the bureau, “In the second quarter of 2017, the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP grew by 0.55 % (year-on-year) in real terms, indicating the emergence of the economy from recession after five consecutive quarters of contraction since the first quarter of 2016.”
Expectedly, the report has continued to elicit diverse reactions with some stalwarts of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) basking in ecstasy.
In an exclusive chat with newsmen on the issue, Chairman, National Caretaker Committee of the PDP, Senator Ahmed Makarfi said it is the wish of every Nigerian for the country to overcome the current hardship, warning however that statistics differs from reality.
“PDP is not praying for the country to be in recession. Statistics may indicate one thing, but reality is different,” he said.
Makarfi’s position is not out of tune with that of millions of Nigerians struggling to eke out a living in the past few years following the crash in the price of crude oil in the international market.
It would be recalled that the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) had said that Nigeria has exited its worst economic recession in more than two decades, notching up growth of 0.55 per cent in the second quarter of 2017.
In its report released, yesterday, the data showed that the economic recovery was driven by improved performance of oil, agriculture, manufacturing and trade sectors of the economy.
It said that since the first quarter of 2016, the Nigerian economy had contracted for five consecutive quarters.
According to the report, the West African powerhouse slipped into recession for the first time in more than two decades in August 2016.
“In the second quarter of 2017, the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 0.55% (year-on-year) in real terms, indicating the emergence of the economy from recession after five consecutive quarters of contraction since Q1 2016,” it said.
Nigeria, which depends on oil sector for 70 per cent of state revenues and 90 per cent of export earnings, has been battered by lower oil prices since mid-2014, which have slashed government revenues, weakened the currency and caused dollar shortages, frustrating business and households.
The nation’s economic woes were exacerbated by militant attacks on key oil infrastructure in the restive Niger delta, slashing output.
The crisis is heaping pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office in May, 2015 on an anti-corruption platform.
His government is also grappling with separatist agitation in the country’s South-East, farmer-herders clashes in the central, Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast and kidnappings and militancy in the South.
Analysts said the outlook for more growth looks positive for Nigeria.
“You can see that there have been improved performances in non-oil sectors in the second quarter,” said Bismark Rewane of the Lagos-based Financial Derivatives Company.
“The prospects for more robust growth are bright. I hope the current economic diversification efforts which see efforts being given to agriculture and mining will be sustained,” he said.
He said the nation’s economy would also buoy if ongoing truce with Niger delta militants was intensified.
“If there are no attacks on oil facilities and production is increased and Nigeria earns more money, then the economy will stabilise.”
Nigeria’s oil output has ramped up to an average of two million barrels per day from a low of 1.3 million in 2016 following government peace talks with the oil rebels.