The Federal Government has developed a Strategic Implementation Plan policy actions for the 2016 budget which articulates six thematic strategies that would constitute the short-term priority of the government over the next 12 months.
Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, while unveiling the detailed economic agenda that specifically tackles the nation’s current challenges, called on Nigerians to remain patient and indeed expectant, assuring that the Buhari administration is firmly committed to revamping the Nigerian economy and fulfilling its promises.
Speaking at the Nation’s Forum On The Economy held on Thursday in Lagos, the Vice President said that the government would focus on implementing about 33 Policy Actions under the six themes in the 2016 fiscal year.
Acknowledging the pains currently facing the nation, Vice President Osibanjo reiterated President Buhari administration’s determination to take decisive decisions that would positively resolve the current economic challenges, adding that the government was working diligently to address the tough challenges inherited from the nation’s past.
Vice President Osibanjo mentioned that the Buhari administration is already taking action and in due course they would produce satisfying outcomes, for they are borne out of a leadership that has no other agenda but the progress and greatness of Nigeria.
According to him, one of the priority actions is a plan for lasting changes in the policy environment, national security and governance, which would enable the government achieve an appropriate foreign exchange regime, increasing low interest lending to the real sector.
He stated that the nation needs to move toward a single digit interest rate, maintain capital spending in the budget at a minimum of 30%, complement this with funds from the infrastructure fund for commercial projects, intensify the implementation of public financial management reforms to grow revenues and cut costs, he however stressed that there were no plans to cut staff numbers.
Government plans to maintain sustainable debt management strategy, introduce fiscal incentives to improve collections, intensify the fight against corruption by increasing transparency, accountability and compliance with law and order and intensify public procurement reforms in projects to obtain value for money and cut cost.
Part of the first plan was the governments’ commitment to sustaining the fight against insurgency, kidnapping and other violent crimes, terrorism, cyber-crimes, piracy, oil theft and illegal mining activities, intensify the reorientation of the populace through integrity campaigns.
Secondly, the Vice President said another thematic strategy is government’s plan to further diversify the economy by fast-tracking industrialization, Agriculture and Agro-Allied Processing as well as attracting investment into the Solid Minerals, Tourism and Entertainment Sectors.
The government is also looking at implementing measures to achieve self-sufficiency and become net exporters of certain agricultural items – rice in 2018, tomato paste in 2016 and wheat in 2019.
For him, local production of maize, soya, poultry and livestock, would be increased so as to achieve self-sufficiency, though the deadlines are yet to be announced.
Agro-allied processing will be revitalized and expanded to intensify local production and processing of cassava, cocoa, cashew, fruits and sesame seed, 5,000 hectares of irrigable land in the 12 River Basin Development Authorities and 22 dams for commercial farming activities by prospective investor will also be utilized.
Also, part of the strategy plans to revitalize the economy were to develop Dadinkowa, Gurara and Oyan dams with 82.5 megawatts capacity contribution to the national grid, adopt and implement a road map to stimulate investment into the solid minerals sector and plug revenue leakages in the sector.
Professor Osinbajo also stated that the government would implement the National Industrial Revolution Plan, launch the ‘made in Nigeria’ campaign, increase manufacturing capacity through the operationalization of industrial parks and free export processing zones among others.
Part of the second set of the priority actions are plans to enhance support facilities to provide increased financial, technical assistance, networking and information to new investors and existing enterprises, implement the road map to increase private sector investment in culture, tourism, entertainment and sports and create high-technology innovation hubs to support growth in the digital and technology sectors.
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Thirdly, there are plans to make critical infrastructure a priority, which the Vice President was optimistic would increase investment in power, rail and roads.
Government will also optimize the 7,000 megawatts installed capacity and ensure associated infrastructure to fuel, transmit and distribute the capacity, ensure tariff includes all costs of transmission, generation and gas at new price, and distribution company costs required to operate, maintain and upgrade distribution networks and resolve all issues on gas pricing, tariffs and payment assurance.
In the short and medium term plan, the government will also conclude road map on gas development, complete the Kaduna-Abuja and Ajaokuta-Warri Rail Lines scheduled for 2016, commence the construction of the Lagos-Kano standard gauge Line and finalise negotiations for the Calabar-Lagos Rail Project, undertake the rehabilitation and construction of 31 major road projects scheduled for 2016 to restore degraded sections of the federal highways network and to establish connectivity over a distance of 2,193km (through public works projects, maintenance works, PPP and other interventions) and complete the rehabilitation of 4 Airports – Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt.
Professor Osinbajo said the fourth thematic strategy is in the oil and gas sector, adding that government would reform the sector by adopting and executing a Comprehensive National Oil and Gas Master-Plan (‘NOGM’), as the roadmap for the petroleum industry’s development, diversification, privatization and governance.
The Fifth strategy is the policy actions focused on the need to ease the challenges faced by persons interested in establishing a business in Nigeria.
Prof Osibanjo said that the government planned to move 20 places up in the global Ease of Doing Business rankings, by implementing fast track measures for business approvals and acquisition of land titles. Nigeria is currently ranked 169 out of 189 countries by the World Bank – 2015 Survey.
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The Vice President told the gathering that the government would also fast-track visa application and issuance processes to further ease the system.
The sixth strategy would focus on social investment and would implement social intervention programme and specific health and education projects included in 2016 Budget, introduce health sector interventions, including flagging off of the revitalization of one primary health centre per Ward. Government said it targets a total of 10,000 health centres nationwide.
According to the Vice President, the Social Investment plans include the training and deployment of 500,000 unemployed graduates as volunteer teachers who would be paid on the job while they seek jobs in their chosen careers, implementation of ‘Homegrown School Feeding’ for primary school pupils across the country paid for by the government.
The government will also introduce a micro-credit scheme that will provide very soft loans to a million market women, artisans, traders and create innovation and technology hubs and parks on a large scale and provide skills acquisition and vocational training for over 300,000 non-graduate youths.
It will also provide a ‘Conditional Cash Transfer’ where one million poor and vulnerable Nigerians would receive 5,000 Naira monthly and a bursary awards for tertiary education students of science, technology, engineering and maths and STEM.