The support of the National Assembly is very critical to the successful implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, has told members of the House of Representatives Tactical Committee on Recession.
Members of the Committee were at the Ministry on Tuesday to further discuss ways of speedily getting the economy out of recession and reducing the economic hardship on the people, which are some of the core mandates of the committee.
The Minister explained that the economic plan released last week by the Federal Government has a dual purpose of getting the economy out of recession and taking the country onto the path of sustainable and inclusive growth.
The National Assembly, he said, has a very important role to play in the successful implementation of the Recovery Plan, because achievement of the broad objectives will largely depend on execution of projects which are contained in budgets, “for which we have to work closely with the National Assembly to secure your support”.
He pointed out that some aspects of the plan are already reflected in the 2017 Budget and that the plan is basically an exposure of what government had already started doing since inception. “This plan puts together all the things that we have been doing, including the strategies we have already developed and launched; which is why you are already seeing progress in agriculture and other areas.
“We have exited Cash calls in our joint venture relationships in the oil sector, which decision was announced last year; it is all part of the plan, so that funding of the joint ventures will no longer be a constraint, which is why in the plan also, we are targeting 2.5mbpd production of crude oil by 2020.”
Explaining why focus is still on crude oil even when government is laying emphasis on diversification into the non-oil sector, the Minister said the economy will continue to rely on oil in the short term. “We need revenue to get out of oil dependency and the fastest way to get that revenue is from oil. From the revenue we get from oil, we can invest in agriculture; we can invest in Export Processing Zones; we can invest in rail, ports, and all the things that will be needed to grow the non-oil economy.”
He mentioned development of agriculture and its value chain and manufacturing and its support infrastructure as areas that government is focusing on, to build a solid foundation for a sustainable and competitive economy for the future.
Senator Udoma noted that Nigerians are very resourceful and the private sector has the capacity to reverse the fortunes of the country if the right policies and the right structures are in place. “What Nigerians need is for government to create an enabling environment and we are determined to do just that.”
While pointing out that the ERGP is an inclusive national plan developed after extensive consultations, the Minister said those with good ideas on how to further enrich government strategies should pass them on as government is very receptive to ideas.
“My position has always been, there is no point staying out there and knocking everything, if you have a good idea, come with it and tell us how it will work and we will accommodate it. This is a national plan and we need everyone on board to achieve the objectives” he added.
He told the Committee members that the Executive will work closely with the Legislature on the implementation of the ERGP. “The plan already contains a number of initiatives and suggestions from the National Assembly and, as we continue with implementation we will always welcome contributions from the National Assembly”.
Responding, Chairman of the Tactical Committee, Hon. Ayorinde Olabode, said the Committee and the Ministry can work together, since its focus is to achieve results in the five mandate areas given to the Committee by the House, within the four months period that it has to report back.