One of the key mandates of Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning is to render policy advice to Federal Government on national development and national plans.
The ministry is expected to advise government in all aspects of national development and design national plans in form of long, medium and short terms to achieve economic sustainability.
It, therefore, designed a medium-term Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017 to 2020 to address the country’s economic challenges.
The plan was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari on April 5, 2017 to lay the foundation for economic diversification, as well as inclusive and sustainable growth.
At the inauguration, Buhari said the ERGP had brought together all the sectoral plans for agriculture and food security, energy and transport infrastructure, industrialisation and social investments together in a single document.
According to him, it is a Strategic Implementation Plan and sets out ambitious roadmap to return the economy to growth and to achieve seven per cent growth rate by 2020.
He, therefore, urged state governments to draw aspiration and strategic direction from the plan to articulate their economic programmes, particularly in the development of the real sector.
The President said: “the Plan I am launching today therefore sets out what we, as government, are committed to do, to create the enabling environment for business to thrive.
“The Plan is national, hence the role of state governments is critical to its success.
“I, therefore, wish to appeal to state governments to draw inspiration and strategic direction from the Plan to articulate their economic programmes, particularly in the development of the real sector.”
After the launch of the Plan, economists take turn to commend government and expressed their hope that it would help the country to be totally out of recession.
A Professor of Development Economics, Mrs Sarah Anyanwu, commended President Buhari for inaugurating the ERGP, saying “the country needs the Plan to get out of recession so as not to prolong it.”
Anyanwu, former Head of Economics Department, University of Abuja, said that the Plan was very good for the country.
She, however, noted that its implementation would be the most important part of the plan as the country had produced many laudable initiatives before but had problems with implementation.
“We need political will to support those that will implement the Plan and bring out resources to do so.
‘“We also need experts to implement the Plan; people that are knowledgeable about economy not politicians that are not informed.
“Government must put politics aside and look for experts to implement the Plan and also people of integrity.
“Economy is different from politics; we need people with brain and expertise”, she said.
Similarly, an economist, Dr Aminu Usman, expressed optimism that ERGP would move the country out of recession and probably put the country on the path of sustainable development.
Usman, the Head of Economics Department, Kaduna State University, however, said the ERGP was announced without implementation of the Plan.
He said “It is expected that the Plan will impact on 2017 budget and even beyond.
“The Plan is a developmental road map and not revenue earning initiative; there is the need to, therefore, lower corporate taxes.”
Meanwhile, the concern of Dr Olusanya Olubusoye, former 2nd Vice-President of Nigerian Statistical Association (NSA), was that government should fill the gaps in ERGP to enhance its effective implementation.
Olubusoye advised Federal Government to incorporate constituencies in the implementation of the ERGP.
He said as a nation with 36 states and 774 local government areas, Nigeria needed to incorporate both states and local governments into the Plan for effective implementation.
The official explained that Lagos State being the 7th largest economy in Africa should have a key role to play in the ERGP implementation.
“How can you grow the economy by seven per cent in a Plan that does not assign any role for states like Lagos, Rivers, Kano, Akwa Ibom and Kaduna?
“Are these states not part of the plan to grow the Nigerian economy, how realistic will it be? Lagos Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2014 stood at N90 billion (about 15 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP).
“The same year, the GDP for Nigeria was N573 billion, so after Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt, Algeria, Angola, Morocco, Lagos economy is next.
“So, if these states with their constituencies are not taken along, the 774 local governments will not be part of it.”
At a news conference on the ERGP, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma, said there was strong political will to implement the plan by the Buhari administration.
Udoma said that the ministry would use Task Forces to implement key priority areas and to ensure that all the gaps in the Plan were filled to ensure its effective implementation.
The key priority areas are stable macro-economic environment, agricultural transformation and food security, as well as sufficiency in energy.
Other areas are improved transportation infrastructure and industrialisation with focus on Small and Medium Scale Enterprises.
The minister said the Task Forces would monitor execution of projects and programmes in the respective sectors and report back to government.
He added that “some of these Task Forces may also have representation from the states and private sector; already we have task forces working on rice, power and tomato paste.
“We will be having regular and active engagements with the private sector on a sectoral basis, to be led by relevant ministers. In particular, the Minister of Investments, Trade and Industry will be meeting with manufacturers to try to replicate the success in the cement industry.”
Udoma said that the aim would be to seek self-sufficiency wherever possible in the basic products that the country needed and use.
According to him, the initial concentration is in areas where there are raw materials locally, such as petrochemicals.
“We will seek to establish what constraints a particular sector has and how government can help to remove the bottlenecks.
“Our role as government is to provide the enabling environment to implement the Plan.”
For instance, Udoma said, Federal Government would provide at least 15 million jobs for Nigerians by the year 2020 as captured in the ERGP.
Udoma added that the implementation of the plan would deliver some key outcomes, including generation of at least 10 gigawatt of electricity by 2020.
“We want to bring down the rate of unemployment by creating over 15 million direct jobs by 2020 in agriculture, manufacturing, construction, services and particularly among youths.
“We want the manufacturing sector to grow at an average 8.5 per cent, peaking 10.6 per cent by 2020.
“We want agriculture to also grow by 6.9 per cent over the Plan period; we want self-sufficiency in rice and wheat in 2018 and 2020 at the end of the Plan period.
“We want 60 per cent reduction in imports of refined petroleum products by 2018 and to become a net exporter of refined crude by 2020.
“We expect an average of 4.6 per cent average real GDP (Gross Domestic Growth) growth rate over the Plan period with seven per cent by 2020; we want to achieve single digit inflation rate by 2020.
“We want to increase crude oil output from 2.2 million barrel per day (mbpd) to 2.5 mbpd by 2020.
“We also want to achieve 10 gigawatt of operational electricity capacity by 2020.”
To effectively implement the Plan, the ministry organised a Stakeholders’ Engagement on the ERGP implementation Roadmap in May.
Udoma told the stakeholders that government had laid out the roadmap for step-by-step delivery of each of the strategies.
He said each strategy would be further broken into component activities, sub activities and actions.
“Each action will be supported by clearly assigned responsibilities, which will be sequenced against clear milestones and timelines for easy monitoring.
“We have also commenced the process of establishing a Delivery Unit, as well as Implementation Units to facilitate effective implementation of the Plan.
“This will start with the establishment of special task forces on the key execution areas of the Plan.”
However, the minister attributed the exit from economic recession to the implementation of the Plan as the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) made the announcement in September.
The minister, while reacting to the Second Quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) said various policies of government toward reflating the economy as set out in the ERGP were yielding results.
According to him, the major focus of government is to reflate the economy through spending in strategic sectors like infrastructure, agriculture, solid minerals to galvanise economic activities and empower the people.
He, however, said that effort had also been concentrated on increasing revenue generation to meet with the challenges of the economy.
Udoma said it was gratifying to note that the growth recorded was broad-based, as the non-oil sector showed improvements in the last two quarters.
“For instance, the agriculture sector continued to grow in 2017, recording a 3.01 per cent growth in the second quarter of 2017.’’
To consolidate on the achievements, Udoma announced at the 23rd Nigerian Economic Summit (NES) in October that government was committed to faithful implementation of the ERGP.
The minister said government had set up special implementation unit to ensure effective delivery of the Plan and had also engaged staff to drive the process.
He explained that government would be running sector-focused Malaysian style labs, noting that “the labs would enable stakeholders to brainstorm on practical steps to overcoming identified challenges in selected areas.
“The central objective of the labs was to bring in private capital to finance projects across the country.
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, also said Federal Government had incorporated policy linkages between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the ERGP.
Ahmed said specific programmes and projects aimed at achieving the SDGs had been integrated into the 2017 National Budget, and would be included in future budgeting frameworks.
She said even with the progress made so far, government had much work to do in terms of empowering and building the capacity of local governments to own the SDGs implementation process.
She added that the ministry would continue to explore opportunities to strengthen and formalise collaboration with state and local governments, having recognised that progress at the sub-national level was key to ensuring implementation.
Nevertheless, the ministry at the 16th Meeting of the National Council on Development Planning held in November, appealed to state governments to complement the efforts of Federal Government in the implementation of the Plan.
The ministry also urged planners and experts to develop measures that would accelerate the momentum of activities in the country’s economic recovery and growth efforts.
Ologuangba is of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).