Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, today re-affirmed their projections for the country’s growth outlook in the current fiscal year.
The duo, in a joint media briefings at the end of the 2018 International Monetary Fund/World Bank (IMF/World Bank) Spring Meeting in Washington DC, United States, noted that the present growth outlook contrasted with the outlook in 2015, and that inflation rate was slowing down amid sustained accretion to the foreign reserves.
Adeosun, while expressing her optimism about government’s capacity to sustain the economic growth trajectory in the months ahead, however called for vigilance and focus to avoid the economy’s fall back into recession.
The minister said: “We are confident that if we diligently implement our economic plan, we will grow the economy. We have room to grow but other countries do not have rooms to grow.
“By 2019, the growth will be far more robust than the present level in 2018. We are therefore very optimistic in sustaining Nigeria’s economic growth. We are going to use this opportunity to grow our fiscal buffers, particularly aggressively growing our revenue base.
“The Administration has succeeded in building macroeconomic resilience for Nigeria, particularly revising the funding mix, rebuilding fiscal buffers, enhancing foreign exchange reserves and focusing on import substitution strategies”, she added.
On improving the revenue-expenditure efficiency in state-owned enterprises, particularly the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC), the minister assured that the government would continue to efficiently and effectively manage their costs and plug leakages in order to improve the efficiency in public finance.
Speaking on the nation’s domestic debt profile, which many analysts have been raising concerns in recent months, Adeosun said that government was refinancing inherited debt portfolio from short term Treasury Bills to longer tenured debt instruments which had resulted in huge savings and reduction in costs of funds for the government.
She disclosed further that the implementation of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) including its extension by three months and other initiatives had helped in raising the tax payers’ base from 13 million in 2015 to 17 million now.
On the repatriated US$322,515,931.83 Abacha loot, the minister, who confirmed that the fund had been lodged into a special account in the CBN, confirmed that recovered loot had been earmarked for the National Social Safety Nets programme of the Government.
Adeosun clarified: “The objective of the National Social Safety Nets Project for Nigeria is to provide access to targeted transfers to poor and vulnerable households under an expanded national social safety nets system.”
In his comments at the forum, the CBN Governor also reiterated Nigeria’s positive growth outlook, adding that the country’s foreign reserves has risen to US$47.93 billion.
He explained: “There is need to save for the raining day and also continue to grow the foreign reserves. If we had enough reserves, we wouldn’t have suffered the recession shocks.”
Emefiele assured that concerted efforts were being made by the monetary authorities and the banks to realise the 80 percent target for financial inclusion in the country by 2020.