Govt working hard to pump funds into economy – Sen. Udoma

Economists everywhere agree that during recessions, the private sector does not invest in the economy at a high rate for obvious reasons; that is the inability of getting returns on such investments.

Hence, the way to reignite the economy at such times is through government spending.  This is the view of the Minister for Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma.

Speaking at a press conference to herald the 22nd edition of the Nigerian Economic Summit held at the NESG House, Ikoyi, Lagos, the minister explained that government is working hard to pump money into the economy.

“The government is trying to get as much money as we can to at least implement the 2016 budget.  It was a well-planned budget.  We were geared to spend our way out of recession.  Unfortunately, we have not met all our planned expenditures for 2016 due to low revenue out turns. If only the budget was funded, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” he said.

Udoma added that one of the ways the government intends to raise money is through concessions.  He said: “Currently, the government is to concession the Lagos-Kano old rail to a private company.  The idea is that that company would revamp the rail and use it for freight purposes.  The same thing will happen to the Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri rail and that is going to bring the government about $2billion.”

There have been calls from various quarters for the sale of some government assets like the NLNG, as way of pumping money back into the economy. The honourable minister revealed that government might actually consider that option, saying “Another way of government making money is by selling off some, not all, of our assets to get immediate cash.”

Outlining specific plans the Federal Government is making to get the country out of recession, Udoma explained that the first step was the reduction of foreign spending on importation.   “We discovered that 30 percent of our foreign currency spending last year was to import petroleum products; so we are calling on private parties to invest in the petroleum industry.  In two years, we want to have stopped importation of petroleum products.

“Importation of food accounts for eight percent of our foreign currency spending.  This is the reason why you see that this government is pushing for investment in the agriculture sector.  Going by our plans, by 2018, we should be self-sufficient in rice.  By 2019, we should be self-sufficient in wheat, and so on,” he said.

Udoma also stated that successive administrations have had various economic programmes which were good but not properly implemented resulting in the recession Nigeria now faces.  “I was part of the National Economic Empowerment And Development Strategy (NEEDS) programme of President Obasanjo.  I was part of the seven-point agenda under the late President Yar’adua. I was familiar with the Transformation Agenda of President Jonathan.  If any of these programmes had been fully implemented, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”



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