…growth forecast is disturbing- Buhari
World Bank has revised Nigeria’s economic growth for 2019 from 2.1per cent to two per cent.
The bank on Wednesday attributed the lowered forecast to, “The medium-term growth outlook continues to be constrained by a weak macroeconomic policy environment and slow policy implementation.”
President Muhammadu Buhari the same day in Abuja stated that most of the statistics quoted by World Bank, about Nigeria economy are disturbing.
However, the World Bank added that it expects Nigeria to grow by 2.1 per cent in 2020 and 2121 as well.
The global lender in April predicted that the nation’s economy will grow by 2.1 per cent.
It also blamed issues such as multiple exchange rates, foreign exchange restrictions, high inflation and low non-oil revenues as some of the hurdles to the economy’s growth.
The bank however, noted that when the economic growth forecast of the three largest economies in Africa – Nigeria, South Africa and Angola, which make up 60 per cent of the continent’s economic value, are subtracted from the equation, the remaining countries will grow by four per cent. This is a drop from the previous prediction of 4.4 per cent.
The bank said the reason for its lowered expectation of the African economy was down to the trade war between the two largest economic players in the globe – China and the United States.
While addressing the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC), Buhari, said ‘‘Today, most of the statistics quoted about Nigeria are developed abroad by the World Bank, IMF and other foreign bodies. Some of the statistics we get relating to Nigeria are wild estimates and bear little relation to the facts on the ground.
‘‘This is disturbing as it implies we are not fully aware of what is happening in our own country.
‘‘We can only plan realistically when we have reliable data. As you are aware, as a government, we prioritised agriculture as a critical sector to create jobs and bring prosperity to our rural communities.
‘‘Our programs covered the entire agricultural value chain from seed to fertiliser to grains and ultimately, our dishes. As you travel in some rural communities, you can clearly see the impact. However, the absence of reliable data is hindering our ability to upgrade these programmes and assure their sustainability.”
The President also used the occasion to set agenda and expectations from the Council, constituted on September 16, 2019, to replace the Economic Management Team (EMT).
On the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs), the President told members that his administration was working to measure the impact of the programme targeted at improving the well-being of millions of poor and vulnerable citizens.
As such, the President said he had directed the new Minister for Humanitarian Affairs to commence a comprehensive data-gathering exercise in all Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in the North East.
‘‘Today, we hear international organisations claiming to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on IDPs in the North East. But when you visit the camps, you rarely see the impact.
‘‘In 2017, when the National Emergency Management Agency took over the feeding of some IDPs in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, the amount we spent was significantly lower than the claims made by these international organisations.
‘‘Therefore, actionable data is critical to implement effective strategies to address pressing problems such as these humanitarian issues.
‘‘I, therefore, look forward to receiving your baseline study as this will help us shape ideas for a sustainable and prosperous future,’’ the President said.
On his expectations from the council, the President urged them to proffer solutions on how to move the country and economy forward.
The President directed the Council to coordinate and synthesize ideas and efforts on how to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years, working in collaboration with various employment generating agencies of government.
“’I am told you worked throughout last weekend in preparation for this meeting.
”I have listened attentively to findings and ideas on how to move the country and the economy forward.
”Yes, Nigeria has exited the recession. But our reported growth rate is still not fast enough to create the jobs we need to meet our national ambition of collective prosperity.
”Reason being we had to tread carefully in view of the mess we inherited.
”Many of the ideas we developed in the last four years were targeted at returning Nigeria back to the path of growth. I am sure you will also appreciate that during that time, our country was also facing serious challenges especially in the areas of insecurity and massive corruption.
”Therefore, I will be the first to admit that our plans were conservative. We had to avoid reckless and not well thought out policies.
“‘However, it was very clear to me after we exited the recession that we needed to re-energise our economic growth plans. This is what I expect from you, ” he said.
President Buhari also assured the Council that the Federal Government will ensure that all their needs and requests were met before the next technical sessions in November.
He said all key ministries, departments and agencies will be available to meet and discuss with them on how to collectively build a new Nigeria that caters for all.
”Now, no one person or a group of persons has a monopoly of knowledge or wisdom or patriotism.
”In the circumstances, you may feel free to co-opt, consult and defer to any knowledgeable person if in your opinion such a move enriches your deliberations and add to the quality of your decisions, ” he said.
Chairman of Council, Professor Salami, said the mandate was about “Nigeria first, Nigeria second, and Nigeria always,” adding that it was about Nigerians, not as numbers, but as people.
He added: “Our goal is that the economy grows in a manner that is rapid, inclusive, sustained and sustainable, so that Nigerians will feel the impact.”