On February 26, 2017, the Honourable Ministers for Budget and Planning; Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma; Power, Works and Housing; Babatunde Raji Fashola, and their colleague in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okey Enyinna Enemelah, spoke to members of the business community about the Federal Government's fiscal and economic plans for 2017 and how they constitute part of its continued efforts to revive the economy.
The conference, which held at Eko Hotel and Suites, was convened by BusinessDay.
Nigeria is facing its worst recession in 25 years, and the effects of that slump have been magnified by a dearth in infrastructure that experts have estimated to be worth over $300 billion.
The Minister for Budget and Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma stated the government's plans to counteract this rot by increasing provisions for capital spending in 2017, with a view to stimulate the economy and drive projects.
The minister outlined key provisions of the proposed 2017 budget including five execution priorities; joint venture cash calls, sustained use of the TSA, broadening the tax base, tackling trade misinvoicing and ensuring fiscal efficiency among MDAs.
The budget should be passed in March and is proposed to have a deficit of 2.4 billion dollars. The government hopes to raise the additional funding that it needs through loans from international financial institutions like the World Bank and the issuance of bonds.
A great deal has been made of Nigeria's debt profile, as well as the need to ensure balance while stimulating the economy through loans and bonds that are essentially liabilities.
While outlining the state of various projects around the country, Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola stressed the need to continue with the government's plans to revive the economy. Fashola also reminded the audience of the need to view the FG's efforts in context, adding that the consistent increase in capital spending indicated a desire to develop the country's infrastructure and in turn, drive investment.
According to the Minister for Trade and Investment, Dr Okey Enelamah, the FG is making efforts, through various policies, to attract investors by making it easier to do business in Nigeria. He emphasised that there is a direct relationship between the ease of doing business and economic prosperity.
He added that Nigeria is still an attractive destination, making reference to the recently issued one billion dollar Eurobond which was over-subscribed to the tune of 7.8 billion dollars.
However, the Ease of Doing Business Report which is a major indicator for investors places Nigeria, at no. 169, as a bad place to do business.
Enelamah stated that the FG has created a committee to address the key parameters which the report considers in drawing up its rankings and create initiatives to fix and strengthen those areas.
The conference is the first in a series of events which the organiser, BusinessDay hopes will be a forum for keeping stakeholders abreast of government's economic plans and decisions.
A number of major financial and economic players and analysts, including Bismarck Rewane, were also in attendance at the event.