Financial and economic experts have advised the Federal Government to focus more on key economic growth drivers in the current fiscal year in order to fast track economic recovery.
They spoke on Tuesday in Lagos at the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria Centre for Financial Studies’ annual programme tagged, ‘’Economic Outlook: Implications for Businesses in Nigeria in 2018’’. Held in collaboration with a leading consulting firm, B. Adedipe Associates Limited, the forum examined economic performance last year and the outlook for the current year.
The Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Economic Summit Group, Mr. Laoye Jaiyeola, said there was a need for the government to pay attention to economic indicators capable of moving the economy beyond the current fragile recovery.
Jaiyeola said, “Certain things are key drivers of growth whether in the developed or developing countries. The first is knowledge. The more advanced knowledge you see, the more growth you see. Technology is being used to provide various services like social services, and it has changed education in many nations. Nations that have done well have learnt to leverage technology to change quite a number of things. These are factors that drive sustainable inclusive growth. There must be equity, fairness and justice in order to drive inclusive growth.
“If the government pays attention to these drivers of sustainable inclusive growth in decision making, growth is bound to take place. But if less attention is paid to these factors, we will take one step forward and two steps backward. Whatever we do, we need to address these critically.”
The President and Chairman of Council, CIBN, Prof. Segun Ajibola, described last year as a progressive one for the economy, having rebounded from its first recession in 25 years.
Ajibola said, “A triumph for the Small and Medium-scale Enterprises was recorded with the Movable Asset Bill 2017 and the Credit Reporting Bill 2017 passed into law by the National Assembly in May of 2017.”
The CIBN president noted that with the establishment of the Investors and Exporters FX window by the Central Bank of Nigeria last year, the banking and finance sector recorded major development.
He added, “Efforts need to be further intensified to ensure that the step being taken to improve electricity generation and distribution across the country yield the desired results. It would not be misplaced to categorically state that the state of emergency should be declared across the country on security between farmers and the Fulani herdsmen, in order not to scare away foreign investors from the prominent economic work of the nation.”
On the economic outlook for this year, the Chief Consultant, B. Adedipe Associates, Dr. Biodun Adedipe, said the developments in the stock market were good for the economy but stressed the need for caution.
He said, “I went back to the stock market data for 2000, and looked at how index and market had behaved. I looked at where we were yesterday (Monday) 43,000 index. I looked at the peak Nigeria ever attained-65,000 in February 2008. At that, we had strong external reserves but by April 2008, foreign investors began to troop out. As they left the stock market, they were paid from the external reserves.
“So, the outflows between April and November 2008 exceeded what we were earning from the sale of crude oil and other paltry exports by $4bn monthly. What we lost to the rest of the world was $28bn in a matter of a few months which of course led the Central Bank of Nigeria to devalue the Naira.”
A former Deputy Governor of the CBN, Mr. Tunde Lemo, who was the chairman of the panel, hinted that the economic fundamentals of the country appeared good, or at least better than what we had in the past. He, however, stressed the need for the government to focus on infrastructure, technology, leadership and multiple taxation. Lemo said political activities this year would have implication for inflation.