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Experts hinge 2020 growth prospects on private participation, reforms

By Victor Gbonegun
10 December 2019   |   3:48 am
For inclusive growth, experts, compromising economists and accountants yesterday, advised the federal government to intensify structural changes in the economy and closely benchmark...

For inclusive growth, experts, compromising economists and accountants yesterday, advised the federal government to intensify structural changes in the economy and closely benchmark top performer nations like, Malaysia, Singapore, and South Korea.

They spoke at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN’s) Economic discourse, in Lagos. The Chief Consultant, B. Adedipe Associates Limited, Dr. Biodun Adedipe, who led the call said the present and future of the economy lies with the private sector, stressing that about 89.68 percent of value being or to be created is within their powers.

Adedipe urged government to facilitate the private sector operators with enabling business environment, noting that governments don’t grow or do business rather they facilitate the operators.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria Budget for 2019 is N8.92 trillion; nominal Gross Domestic Product during H1 2019 was N66.769 trillion, which annualises to N133.54 trillion for the year; meaning Federal Government spend plan is 6.68% of projected total value of economic activities in 2019. If the states and local governments do similar to their actual revenue for 2018 (N4.225 trillion), grossed up with fresh 15% borrowing, total spending will be N4.86 trillion.

States budgeted N9.23 trillion in 2019 and that brings total government spend to 10.32% of estimated GDP. Clearly the present and future of the economy lies with the private sector,” he said.

According to him, the 2020 macroeconomic expectations would most likely centre around a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 2.35per cent to 2.42per cent, inflation rate of 12.32per cent, external reserve of about $41.44 billion and crude oil price at the rate of $59.2bbl. Others, he said would include, exchange rate of N306 and N364/per dollar, diesel price of N205, and interest rate of a lower double digit.

Adedipe, a former special adviser to late president Umaru Yar’Adua, said the Nigerian economy has several opportunities that span several sectors and quite promising for discerners, and called on the federal government to strengthen the non-oil economy particularly, agriculture, ICT, manufacturing, mining, construction and services, to get the youthful population, which is the third largest in the world engaged as well as harness the huge entrepreneurial energy of most Nigerians.

“Two things must change- readiness of every stakeholder to pay the price. “Nothing remarkable happens without someone paying the price for it. We must collectively resolve not speak ill of our country. We should appreciate what is working and seek ways to turnaround those that are below expectation”

Adedipe maintained that the Nigeria economic performance for the 2020 would also be dictated by major occurrences in the global space particularly the trade war between the United States of America and China, rising protectionism with regards to, ‘America first’, ‘No-deal Brexit’ and xenophobia in South Africa, Ghana and Togo.

“Nigeria should begin to take seriously her citizens’ interests, and to place them first because hostilities against them abroad could affect Diaspora remittances at home. There is global policy uncertainty, weakening productivity and adverse climate change effects. Most commodity prices have softened on slowing growth in China and most East Asian economies.”

In a remark, the 55th President of ICAN, Mazi Nnamdi Okwuadigbo, explained that it was germane to x-ray the present situation due to the fact that previous economic reforms and programmes appear to have failed in repositioning the country to the desired status among the comity of nations. Hence, a critical assessment and an unbiased appraisal of current reforms are important if the nations don’t want to travel the same path of failed policies.

According to him, a projection into the coming new year is not only pivotal to informing governments’ actions, but also central for decision-making by business entities.

In their contributions, professors of economics from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Muhammed Usman, and Ademola Oyejide, who was represented by Dr. Saka Bala, condemned the idea of Nigeria signing the AFCFTA agreement saying that it would only benefit some African countries, including South Africa, Morroco, and Egypt that have strong quality control on movement of goods coming into their countries.

“No economy in the world allows free opening in the movement of goods and services. We must protect the local economy to produce and sell. The downstream sector of the economy needs to grow because it creates adequate mobility. The continent looks up to Nigeria for leadership but we have been sleeping, Nigeria must lead,”

Usman, urged government to invest in human capital development, warning that the index in the last 12 years has remained low, while government’s allocations for capital investment in education has been for perimeter fencing of the universities rather than for research and development.