The Federal Government has said the impact of its economic policies will be felt soon by Nigerians. The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the assurance in Lagos during a press conference titled, ‘The Muhammadu Buhari administration is putting the economy on a winning path.’
He said, “We are winning the battle to revive the economy. We are fighting corruption like never before. We are tackling insecurity with renewed vigor. The bottom line is that as things continue to improve, Nigerians will begin to feel the impact in their daily lives. With the ongoing massive infrastructural development, especially in roads, railways and power, Nigerians will begin to get a new lease of life; food prices will tumble, businesses will thrive and more jobs will be created.
“While the naysayers, who are obviously in the minority, persist in their pastime of acting as distraction, discerning and well-meaning Nigerians will continue to appreciate and encourage the good work of our administration.”
The Minister added that the administration had improved the country’s tax to Gross Domestic Product ratio through the Nigerian Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme, saying the initiative had provided a time-bound opportunity for taxpayers to regularize their tax status relating to previous tax periods and pay taxes due.
“In exchange for fully and honestly declaring previously undisclosed assets and income, taxpayers will benefit from forgiveness of overdue interest and penalties, and the assurance of not facing criminal prosecution for tax offences or tax investigations. As of October 31, 2017, VAIDS has raked in over N200m and $55m.
“Then, of course, there are the usual indices: for eight consecutive months, headline inflation has been falling, the Foreign Exchange reserves are up to $34bn, from $24bn a year ago; oil production is at nearly two million barrels per day, a significant improvement from 2016 when it was mostly below a million; the value of the Naira in the parallel market has appreciated significantly in recent times against the US Dollar, and at about $1.8bn, the capital inflows in the second quarter of 2017 were almost double the $908m in the first quarter,” he said.
The administration, he noted, was aware that reviving the economy would not be an easy task as it would bring temporary hardship to the people.
“Through it all, the good people of Nigeria have borne the pains with equanimity, based on their unshakable trust in the sincerity, capability and commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari. Now, the soothing balm is here. As the results of the Government’s fidelity to its well-articulated economic policies trickle in, one thing is sure: this time round, it will be long-lasting.
He added, “Right from the inception of this administration, we chose the path of seeking a lasting solution to the economic crisis plaguing the nation instead of engaging in a quick fix that may attract accolades but will not endure. We chose to be painstaking instead of engaging in palliatives. I am happy to say that we are winning.
“Our well-thought-out policy, encapsulated in the administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, launched in April 2017, is working and the results are beginning to show. In September, we exited recession and returned to the path of growth after five consecutive quarters of contraction. As we said then, taking Nigeria out of recession did not happen by accident. It was the culmination of months of hard work by the administration and fidelity to its well-articulated economic policies.”
The Minister stressed that Nigeria’s exit from recession was not a fluke because less than two months after, precisely on October 31, 2017, the country moved up 24 places to 145th position out of the 190 countries in the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ report.
He also noted that the country, for the first time, was recognized as one of the top 10 most improved economies in the world.
Also, the Secretary of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council and the Coordinator of the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, said the country had made significant progress in the task of improving business environment in the past 12 months.
She stated, “Some of the achievements during the period included starting a second national action plan tagged NAP 2.0 to mobilize Ministries, Departments and Agencies for reforms that build on the achievements of the initial 60-day National Action Plan.
“We commenced the preparation and drafting of an Omnibus Bill to holistically address legal constraints to business and small and medium-scale enterprises in Nigeria.”
Oduwole disclosed that the council would soon launch an App to collate feedback from the public on the performance of the MDAs.
The EBES coordinator added, “We really need the public to engage and participate in this feedback process. The World Bank highlighted five reforms making it easier to do business in Kano and Lagos, the two cities covered by the report in Nigeria over the course of last year: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, registering property, getting credit, and paying taxes.
“In the area of company registration, the Corporate Affairs Commission has moved to offer online registration and introduced new features such as electronic stamping of registration documents. Thus, entrepreneurs have been able to register their businesses much faster, within 24-48 hours, thereby saving cost and time.”