…..restates commitment to capital budget efficiency
The Federal Government has projected that the nation’s economy would grow by 3.5 per cent this year, which is 1.4 per cent more than the International Monetary Fund’s projection of 2.1 per cent for the country.
Making the forecast in his lecture delivered to the National Defence College (NDC) Course 26 participants at the weekend, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, explained that this target was realizable given the current initiatives of government to improve the performances of the economy in key sectors.
Osinbajo, who was represented at the forum by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, spoke on the topic titled “Economic Dimensions of National Security: The Nigerian Experience”.
Citing micro and macroeconomic indices in the economy to justify his position, the Vice President was quoted by the Special Adviser on Media and Communications to the Minister of Finance, Oluyinka Akintunde, as saying that with the deceleration in inflation rate and sustained accretion in foreign reserves amongst other positive indices, the target for the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (ERGP) can be achieved.
He said: “The inflation projection of 15.74% by end of 2017 was achieved and there is good reason to believe that the EGRP target of 12.42% by the end of 2018 can be achieved.
“With regard to foreign exchange reserves, the level of $40.3 billion achieved by end January is already quite close to the amount of $43.53 billion projected in the ERGP for the end of this year. Given the current state of the oil market, this is a target that can readily be achieved,” the Vice President added.
Osinbajo said further that improvement in economic security was vital to Nigeria’s economic growth, human security improvement, and realisation of national defence and security requirements.
He assured that the Federal Government would continue to play a key role in ensuring national cohesion by promoting social inclusion as a Key State objective.
The Vice President clarified further: “Economic development is a springboard for improved national security because it comes with growth which enables more resources for a growing population.
“National economic development means that a country can meet its national security needs without depending on outsiders for the provision of its defence and security needs. Depending on food and energy imports makes a nation vulnerable to external pressure”, Osinbajo added
He explained that the ERGP was initiated to address macroeconomic balance, increase contribution of agriculture, manufacturing, mining and high value services to the economy, build a competitive economy through the provision of infrastructure, and invest in the Nigerian people.
On the Social Investment Programme, the Vice President disclosed that about 200,000 N-Power Jobs had been created under the programme while 250 million meals had been served under the Home Grown School Feeding Programme.
He hinted further that 300,000 micro loans had been issued under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance also assured that the capital budget would be strictly deployed to fund infrastructure projects across the country, particularly the completion of ongoing projects, despite the forthcoming 2019 elections
Responding to an enquiries by a member of the NDC Course 26 on the use of the capital budget for the general elections, Adeosun maintained that the present Administration would not engage in the diversion of the capital project funds for the forthcoming elections.
The Minister said: “The Administration remains committed to infrastructure spending at the high levels of the past two years and the completion of major ongoing projects.”
She further reiterated the commitment of the administration to its programme of transformation, and jobs and wealth creation across the country.
It would be recalled that President Buhari had on November 7, 2017 presented a budget of N8.612 trillion to the National Assembly, with focus on massive infrastructure development which includes: key strategic roads, rail projects and power projects, among others.