Efficient utilisation of resources not just economic growth should be government’s priority – Bukhara

The Chairman, Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Kharkov Bukhara has said that the concern for the economy should go beyond mere growth narrative to ensuring resources are efficiently utilised.
Bukhara made the observation in Lagos during Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce (NSACC) February Breakfast Meeting in Lagos, on Thursday, when he delivered a paper on “The Nigerian Economic Outlook and Imperative for Inclusive Growth and Development.”
Bukhara said that the nation’s growth model needed a rethink and placing priority on inclusiveness should be a pre-eminent consideration.
He said that if resources were efficiently utilised and benefits of growth equitably distributed, resilience would be built against downside risks economically.
“Making growth inclusive is not a negotiable priority for the government. The average citizen must contribute to and benefit from the growth process.”
Bukhara said that the key socio-economic indicators had not fared well, in spite of the recovery of the economy from recession in 2017.
“The latest report of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that unemployment and underemployment rate rose from 35.2 per cent in 2016 quarter 4 to 40 per cent as at 2017 quarter 3.
“Implying that over four million Nigerians lost their jobs in the same period.
“Likewise, over 85 million Nigerians lived below the national poverty line, even as Nigeria remains in the category of countries with low Human Development Indicators (HDI), according to the World Bank’s HDI Report.
“This points to one fundamental fact that Nigeria’s economic growth needs to be inclusive to provide employment opportunities and lift millions out of poverty,” he said.
According to him, policy-makers should pay attention to pillars of inclusive growth, which are achieving growth that is broad-based and led by the productive sectors such as manufacturing, construction and agro-processing.
“Pursuing social inclusion with reforms in Education, Health and Skills Development, and providing Social Safety Nets for the poor and vulnerable citizens’’.
Bukhara said that to make the pillars effective, they must be backed and supported by good governance and strong institutions.
According to him, to achieve growth that is broad-based and led by the productive sectors, the following policy recommendations were crucial.
“There is a need to ensure macro-economic stability and this can be achieved by maintaining exchange rate stability and sustaining existing policies that ensure foreign exchange availability.
“Ensure price stability by intervening urgently to prevent fuel scarcity, provide interventions in the agricultural sector to increase food supply and ensure availability of foreign exchange.
“Implement growth-enhancing policies (including intervention funds) for sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, construction and transportation.
“Maintain favourable interest rate which will spur economic growth, implement ease of doing business reforms across states and implement reforms to reduce regulatory bottlenecks across sectors’’.
Bukhara stressed the need to review and implement the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) toward providing a clear strategy to develop sectors like manufacturing, agro-processing, metals and solid minerals, oil and gas as well as services.
“We believe that if the NIRP is appropriately implemented, Nigeria will achieve a well-diversified economy, with the productive sectors contributing significantly to GDP growth and unemployment reduction.
“A well-diversified government revenue base, export and foreign exchange earnings as a result of expansion in manufacturing and agricultural sectors’’.
The NESG boss said there was need to increase the capital budget performance to stimulate the construction sector and enhance provision of infrastructure toward creating an enabling environment.
“Focus on targeted infrastructure projects that can spur the growth of the industrial sector and Implement the debt re-balancing strategy to reduce interest payments on government debt and free-up funds for capital projects.’’
Bukhara urged government to embark on procurement reforms to reduce delays and inefficiencies in the budget process and strengthen monitoring and evaluation capacity within the government.

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