Nigeria can still attain economic growth despite dwindling oil revenue, says IMF boss

Posted by News Express | 7 January 2016 | 3,203 times

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Managing Director of International Monetary Fund, Madame Christine Lagarde, said yesterday that Nigeria can still achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth despite dwindling oil revenue by ensuring fiscal discipline, eliminating corruption and investing in infrastructure like roads, power, healthcare and affordable housing.

She spoke during a meeting with Principal Officers of the National Assembly as part of her four-day visit to Nigeria.

Lagarde said that government at all levels in the country need to act with resilience, resolve and restraint in order to overcome the present economic challenges.

“I see a fundamental change in the way government operates. What I mean by that is, the new reality of low oil prices and low oil revenues means that the fiscal challenge facing government is no longer about how to divide the proceeds of Nigeria’s oil wealth. But what needs to be done is that, Nigeria should deliver to its people the public services they deserve – be it in education, health or infrastructure,” she said.

Speaking earlier during the meeting held at the national Assembly Complex, President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said that the Nigerian National Assembly is satisfied with the new IMF recognition of the pivotal role parliamentarians could play in forging sustainable development policies for the attainment of the IMF mandate.

“To me, this is critical to minimising the erroneous perception on IMF policy prescriptions and conditionalities that have been entrenched over the years especially in Africa,” he said.

Saraki said that the visitation, in this New Year, was very auspicious as the Senate has began to deliberate on the 2016 Appropriation Bill as the world economy is rebalancing in response to falling commodity prices, in particular oil.

He added that the visit was vital to the success of the Fund’s policies and programmes not only now but also in the future. “As legislators, we play an important role in making our people understand IMF advice, policy trade-offs, consultations and other engagements, so that ownership, transparency and accountability are brought to bear in economic policy choices,” he said.

Speaking on the effect of low oil prices on government revenue, Saraki said: “Our economic fundamentals remain robust and the economy is resilient to absorb the current oil price shock. The situation is bringing out the entrepreneurship in us. Our private sector is also rising to the challenge. We assure you we will use this occasion to build a new economy diversified away from the perennial effects of oil price shocks. 

“It is challenging us to think out of the box in funding the repair of infrastructure, boosting employment, and securing our borders and people. These are no mean tasks and we welcome the support of our friends in this trying period.”

The Senate President recommended that IMF should further strengthen the network as a veritable tool towards greater convergence of understanding and engagement.

Saraki promised that the 8th National Assembly is committed to working closely with the Executive arm in addressing the challenges facing the Nigerian economy, in the areas of collaboration between the Legislature and Executive; blocking revenue leakages; providing conducive business environment and ending impunity and reducing corruption in Nigeria.

•Photo shows Saraki welcoming Lagarde to the National Assembly . . . yesterday in Abuja.

Source: Mayowa Okekale, Abuja

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