By Racheal Ishaya
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, affirmed on Sunday that the country’s positive growth outlook would be sustained.
The Minister and the CBN Governor gave this assurance at a joint press briefing at the end of the 2018 International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Spring Meeting in Washington DC, United States.
Adeosun said the present growth outlook contrasted with the outlook in 2015, and that inflation rate was slowing down while the foreign reserves were rising.
The minister, who expressed optimism that the Federal Government would be able to sustain the growth trajectory, however, called for vigilance and focus so that the country would not to fall back into recession.
“We are confident that if we diligently implement our economic plan, we will grow the economy.
“We have room to grow but other countries do not have room to grow.
“By 2019, the growth will be far more robust than the present level in 2018.
“We are therefore very optimistic in sustaining Nigeria’s economic growth.
“We are going to use this opportunity to grow our fiscal buffers, particularly aggressively growing our revenue base.
“The administration has succeeded in building macroeconomic resilience for Nigeria, particularly revising the funding mix, rebuilding fiscal buffers, enhancing foreign exchange reserves and focusing on import substitution strategies,” she said.
Adeosun said that the Federal Government would continue to efficiently and effectively manage the cost of running state-owned enterprises such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation as well as plug leakages.
“We must make sure that every money that is earned comes in. We will drive the process of improving governance,” she said.
On the nation’s domestic debt, the Minister stated that the Federal Government would not aggressively grow the debt.
“We are refinancing our inherited debt portfolio from short term Treasury Bills to longer tenured debt which has resulted in huge savings and reduction in costs of funds for the government,” she said.
Adeosun disclosed that the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) deadline was extended by three months till June 30, 2018 due to the appeals from tax payers for more time to regularise their tax status.
She revealed that the present administration had raised the tax payers’ base from 13 million in 2015 to 17 million as at 2018.
She confirmed the recovery of 322.51 million dollars of the Sani Abacha loot from the Swiss Government into a special account with the CBN.
The funds, according to her, have been earmarked for the National Social Safety Nets programme of the Federal Government.
“The objective of the National Social Safety Nets Project for Nigeria is to provide access to targeted transfers to poor and vulnerable households under an expanded national social safety nets system,” Adeosun said.
Emefiele also reiterated Nigeria’s positive growth outlook, noting that a growth of 2.5 per cent had been projected by the IMF and World Bank for Nigeria.
He disclosed that the country’s foreign reserves had risen to 47.93 billion dollars.
“There is need to save for the raining day and also continue to grow the foreign reserves. If we had enough reserves, we wouldn’t have suffered the recession shocks,” he said.
Emefiele assured that concerted efforts were being made to realise the 80 per cent target for financial inclusion by the year 2020.