Prepare for hard times; things will be tough till the end of 2015, Okonjo-Iweala advises Nigerians

Posted by News Express | 6 May 2015 | 5,439 times

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The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has advised Nigerians not to expect any dramatic improvement in the next few months, as the country’s economic challenges are far from being over.

“As you know, I have been honest with you since the current economic problems started. I would like to repeat: we have serious challenges, things have been tough since the beginning of the year and they are likely to remain so till the end of the year. We have serious challenges but we also have strengths and if we do the right things we can keep a steady course and emerge out of the current situation,” Okonjo-Iweala said during yesterday’s briefing in Abuja on the finalised 2015 Budget.

She disclosed that “as a result of the 50% decline in oil revenues, the country has faced a difficult cash crunch and the Federal Government has focused on keeping the economy stable and the government running through a series of measures.”

On the measures, the minister said: “We have front-loaded the borrowing programme to manage the cash crunch in the economy. Out of the N882 billon budgetary provision for borrowing, the government has borrowed N473 billion to meet up with recurrent expenditure, including salaries and overheads.”

She noted that “traditionally the first part of the year witnesses low revenue because tax receipts come in from the middle of the year,” adding: “This has compounded the challenges caused by the steep drop in revenues due to the oil price fall.

“As a consequence of the revenue challenges, there has been no capital budget release so far this year.”

The minister however pointed out that “in spite of this challenge, government has managed to keep the economy stable to the point that the Nigerian economy which is projected to grow by 4.8% this year is according to respected analysts is doing much better than many other oil producing countries.”

On the positive side, Okonjo-Iweala said: “One positive feature despite the clear challenges is the fact that food prices, though inching up are still quite stable. Also inflation is still in single digits. This has helped to reduce some of the pressure that Nigerians are going through

“We also have the advantage that we are an asset rich country and that is a definite strength.

“It is a challenging time and requires daily, weekly and monthly management to keep the country going and that’s what we have been doing.”

•Photo shows Okonjo-Iweala.

Source: News Express

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