N7 trillion 2017 budget not enough for economic development, says Osinbajo
• ‘Nigeria is opening itself for free enterprise’
• Urges investors to take advantage of opportunities
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the N7 trillion federal budget for 2017 is not sufficient to facilitate the desired economic development in the country, hence the government was making the investment climate profitable and easy for private sector involvement.
He said Nigeria was opening up for free enterprise and urged investors to take advantage of the opportunities being created in the country to establish their businesses.
Osinbajo spoke yesterday when he met with delegates from the Nigerian Initiative for Economic Development (NEID), United States (U.S.), at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
“Our budget is N7 trillion this year. Now, N7 trillion is a small amount of money. I am not adding the budget of the states because if you add that, it comes to something close to N20 trillion. But just looking at the federal budget, it is just N7 trillion.
“That’s why we are working so hard on making the investment climate profitable and easy for those who are doing business already. Because we believe that those who are doing business already will invariably bring in those who want to do business from outside the country, foreign investment and so on.
“The truth of the matter is that any country that opens itself to free enterprise, the way Nigeria is opening itself to free enterprise, will somehow find that it will work, and that is one of the critical things that we are bringing into the mix,” he said.
The Acting President, who also stated that the current administration was working to ensure that the investment climate is profitable to entrepreneurs, said there were huge private sector investments in Nigeria that belie the country’s N7 trillion budget for this year, indicating the prominent role the private sector could play in driving economic growth.
Osinbajo stated that areas where the private sector could invest and make profit in Nigeria included agriculture where there exists potentials that need to be harnessed.
According to him, government was trying to infuse a payment assurance guarantee of over N701 billion into the power value chain to free it up, adding that with this and efforts being made to address the issue of tariff, the power sector would be opened up to give access to big investors to come in.
“This is a country of 180 million people and in another 10 years’ time, we are probably going to be the sixth or seventh largest country in the world. There is no way we are not going to need power, whether it is off-grid power or on-grid power. Power is required by everyone where we have a major power deficit. So, we are going to open up that power sector and anyone who invests in power sector will definitely make money. No question. It is going to be much bigger and better than telecom,” he further said.
Also speaking, Chairman of the NIED, James Fadel, said Nigerians in the U.S. were interested in such untapped areas as logistics, housing and security.He said that they could invest up to $2 billion in such sectors, adding that they were happy that the government in Nigeria was ready to work with them.