Recession We will cooperate with NASS for Nigeria’s recovery - Buhari

The president said this while presenting the 2017 Appropriation Bill before the joint session of the National Assembly.

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President Muhammadu Buhari has reaffirmed the commitment of his administration to cooperate with the National Assembly in the effort to get the country out of recession.

The president made this known while presenting the 2017 Appropriation Bill before the joint session of the National Assembly on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said the executive would take a look at the resolutions of the National Assembly suggesting solutions to the imminent economic problems in the country.

According to him, the resolutions will be factored into the recovery and growth plans, which the executive has already embarked upon.

“Permit me to briefly outline a few important features of the plan.

“The underlying philosophy of our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan is optimising the use of local content and empowering local businesses.

“The role of government must be to facilitate, enable and support the economic activities of the Nigerian businesses as I earlier mentioned.

“Fiscal, monetary and trade policies will be fully aligned and underpinned by the use of policy instruments to promote import substitution.

“Government will, however, at all times ensure the protection of public interest.

“We will now use oil revenues to revive our agriculture and industries.

“ Though we cannot control the price of crude oil, we are determined to get our production back to at least 2.2 million barrels per day,’’ he said.

The president said that in line with suggestions from the National Assembly, the executive would continue its engagement with the communities in the Niger Delta to ensure that there was minimum disruption to oil production.

He assured that his government would continue its ongoing reforms to enhance the efficiency of the management of our oil and gas resources.

To this effect, the President noted that from January 2017, the Federal Government would no longer make provision for Joint Venture cash-calls.

He said going forward, all Joint Venture operations would be subjected to a new funding mechanism, which would allow for Cost Recovery.

The president stressed that the new funding arrangement would help to boost exploration and production activities.

The funding arrangement according to him will have resultant net positive impact on government revenues which can be allocated to infrastructure, agriculture, solid minerals and manufacturing sectors.

The president, however, decried the culture of non-implementation of projects, adding that the phenomenon had led to innumerable bureaucratic hurdles in doing business.

He said to this end, he would issue Executive Orders to ensure the facilitation and speeding up of government procurements and approvals.

Buhari stated that the Executive Orders would widen the scope of compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act by Federal Government owned entities, while promoting support for local content in Ministries, Department and Agencies.

“The Executive will soon place before the National Assembly proposals for legislation to reduce statutorily mandated minimum times for administrative processes in order to speed up business transactions.

“In addition, I have established the Presidential Enabling Business Council, chaired by the Vice President with a mandate to make doing business in Nigeria easier and more attractive.

“Getting approvals for business and procurements will be simplified and made faster.

“ In 2017, we will focus on the rapid development of infrastructure, especially rail, roads and power.

“Efforts to fast-track the modernisation of our railway system is a priority in the 2017 Budget. In 2016, we made a lot of progress getting the necessary studies updated and financing arrangements completed.

“We also addressed some of the legacy contractor liabilities inherited to enable us to move forward on a clean slate.

“Many of these tasks are not visible, but are very necessary for sustainability of projects. Nigerians will soon begin to see the tangible benefits in 2017,’’ he said.

On the state of power supply in the country, he said from assessment conducted, there was the need for more funding of the sector.

According to him, though the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other Development Finance Institutions have intervened, it is clear that more capital is needed.

He also said that the problems of liquidity in the sector must be resolved.

He said “Government has made provisions in its 2017 Budget to clear its outstanding electricity bills.

“This we hope will provide the much needed liquidity injection to support the investors.

“ In the delivery of critical infrastructure, we have developed specific models to partner with private capital, which recognise the constraints of limited public finances and incorporate lendings from the past.

“These tailor-made public private partnerships are being customised, in collaboration with some global players to suit various sectors, and we trust that the benefits of this new approach will come to fruition in 2017.’’

He promised that although a lot of problems experienced by his administration were not created by it, it was determined to deal with them.

The president stressed that one of such issues that the Federal Government was committed to dealing with was the issue of its indebtedness to contractors and other third parties.

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He said government was at an advanced stage of collating and verifying the obligations, some of which dated back ten years, with the estimate of about N2 trillion.

He promised to continue to negotiate a realistic and viable payment plan to ensure legitimate claims are settled.

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