Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma dismissed speculations that the federal was owing workers salaries at the federal level and has also given a ray of hope on the current Nigeria’s economic quagmire, saying that there were strong indications that the economy would rebound from later this year to early next year.
The minister said “We have paid all salaries. Federal government has always been paying its salaries, and there is no risk whatsoever that there is going to be a situation where federal government will not pay salaries.
He acknowledged that 2016 had been bad on the economy, majorly attributing the situation to the restiveness in the Niger Delta. The minister said that the attacks by the militants which had had negative impact on the oil production were no anticipated.
He however said that the federal government was working assiduously to diversify the economy by developing other sectors such as agriculture and solid minerals. Udoma who fielded questions from Journalists alongside Taraba State governor, Mr. Diarus Ishaku and his Niger State counterpart, Abubakar Bello at the end of National Economic Council chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinabjo at the presidential villa, Abuja on Thursday basically defined recession as when you have two quarters of negative growths.
He said: “Recession is basically when you have two quarters of negative growth. We had a first quarter of negative growth and we are still waiting to get all the figures for the second quarter which has just ended in June.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) will be giving us all the figures but if as we suspect the second quarter is also negative, then of course technically you could say that we are in recession if those figures turn out to be so. But even if we are not, the situation in the economy right now is one that of course we are addressing.
“Some of it was expected some of it was not. We did expect the low oil price but we did not to expect the level of disruption that we got in the Niger Delta, such that oil production went down and we are not likely to achieve the 2.2 million barrel per day because it went down to 1.2 million barrel per day, a little over about 1.3 million barrel per day.
“So you can imagine the impact but some measures are being taken to address those issues. We expect that by the third quarter we will start to pick up and we expect to finish the year in positive territory. That is what we are expecting.
We expect to be marginally positive by the end of this year. But by next year, we will now start to pick up and we will have much more growth next year. “But this year has been a difficult year and some of it as I said was expected but we didn’t expect the disruptions which we caused in the Niger Delta and which led to the reduction in the amount of production of crude oil and also affected power supply because a lot of our power is supplied by gas.
So it affected the power supply. So that is basically it. “We are expecting the economy to begin to grow again from the third quarter unto the fourth quarter. We are focusing on non oil. We are focusing agriculture, solid mineral and manufacturing. So, basically, we see what we are going through as an opportunity in some ways to finally move away from total dependence on the single commodity crude oil.
“We believe that Nigerians have the capacity to turn this thing around. It is the private sector that is going to do it. Our role as a government is to provide the enabling environment. For that to happen we are confident that that will happen”, he explained.