In a rejoinder to an opinion piece written by our News Editor Jude Egbas, a reader who pleaded anonymity, says scrapping the EMT led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for the EAC, is a huge mistake from President Buhari.
Enjoy the read below:
Yesterday’s announcement of the newly constituted Economic Advisory Council (EAC) gained a lot of attention and rightly so, because it has an assemblage of the right names whose pedigree and knowledge will be a welcome addition to the economic thinking within President Buhari’s administration.
However, the second part of the move which scraps the Economic Management Team (EMT) is both needless and a bad move.
Why? The EAC will meet once every month and meet with the President once quarterly. This hands-off approach is at variance with what it seeks to replace. The EMT was mostly hands-on and was a coordinating point for the executive to fashion its economic policies across its various Ministries, Departments and Agencies on a frequent basis. The EMT met weekly.
The idea of an EMT is for there to be a focused, hands-on approach to executing the federal government's economic priorities. Also, its membership proves the need for its existence--it is made up of the ministers responsible for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Investments, Trade and Industry; and infrastructure-oriented ministries such as Works & Housing.
The CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) Governor also sits in as well; with economic growth as the priority. The purview of the EMT as a committee of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), gives expression to focus, specialization and dispatch.
Let’s look at tax for example and all other revenue initiatives of the government. There will be a need to consult, assemble and get the input of various agencies such as FIRS, Customs, etc. Also the input of private sector players like the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) among others, will be solicited. These inputs are all then synthesized for presentation to the president and FEC for approval. Much of these consultations and syntheses is done by EMT.
With the EMT replaced, there would now be a vacuum in the effective coordination and administration of the economy by the executive at the federal level.
The inauguration of the EAC is a welcome development but it shouldn’t replace the EMT. If anything, it should complement the EMT. Both should and can co-exist without conflict. What an economy that’s just emerging from the throes of recession requires is a focused drive, not a once-in-a-month meeting, in order to quickly deal with issues of unemployment and poor economic growth.
Since Nigeria's return to democratic governance in 1999, the EMT has functioned as a sort of clearing house for economic policies for the president and FEC. The Obasanjo administration for instance, had an EMT, constituted essentially by top-level government officials within his cabinet.
So, let the EAC provide qualitative advice to the president and government about the convergence of our fiscal, trade and monetary policies. But let the EMT continue its work of managing, coordinating and driving all players within the executive and the private sector (through engagement and suasion) towards the achievement of the government’s economic priorities.
Editor's note: The writer contributed this piece from Abuja. The views expressed in this essay are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Pulse.ng