Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun has said that the country’s economic outlook for the year 2018 and beyond was positive.
Speaking at the fourth Ogun State Investors Forum held in Abeokuta on Tuesday, the minister said the country was now resilient after exiting recession even as it has the potential to achieve a seven per cent economic growth in the next two to three years.
Adeosun gave this assurance at the event attended by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun; former President of Mexico, Mr. Felipe Calderone and captains of industry.
According to Adeosun, the current Administration had succeeded in building macroeconomic resilience for the country, particularly revising the funding mix, rebuilding fiscal buffers, enhancing foreign exchange reserves and focusing on import substitution strategies.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has laid the foundation for the repositioning of the economy with a series of reforms which are being sequenced to ensure maximum impact and benefits to Nigeria and the citizens.
“These include massive investments in infrastructure and social welfare across the country, improved revenue mobilisation, rebuilding of foreign reserves and stabilization of exchange rate”, she said.
The Nigerian economy had returned to growth in the second quarter of 2017 after five consecutive quarters of negative growth.
The country exited recession with a growth of 0.72 per cent, which was further consolidated with growths of 1.40 per cent and 1.92 per cent in the third and fourth quarters of last year, respectively.
The Minister explained that the quick reversal of the recession meant “less damage” was done to the economy and provided an opportunity for faster positive growth.
As revenue and growth return, Adeosun said the Government would increase the fiscal space for infrastructure spending.
According to her, revenue mobilisation is potentially the master key to unlocking Nigeria’s huge growth potentials and funding the infrastructure programmes.
“The Federal Government will continue to create more fiscal space for reforms to enhance productivity and opportunity in the non-oil sector.
“Greater focus will also be placed on cost efficiency, blocking revenue leakages and continued support to the States,” she added.
Recalling the actions taken by the Administration on assumption of office in May 2015, the Minister said it had two options of “balancing our books by cutting down on expenses and also investing massively in infrastructure and the economy”.
“If we had gone for the first option of cutting down on our costs, it means we would have laid off workers. But we chose to stimulate the economy with massive investments in roads, power, rails and other infrastructure as part of deliberate efforts to grow the economy.
“We have invested over N2.5 trillion in infrastructure, especially on capital projects, between 2015 and 2017. If you move round the country, you will see ongoing works in roads, power, bridges, rails and other projects. These are important building blocks for the Nigerian economy.
“Look at the road sector when we came in, it was N19 billion that was invested in the sector in 2015. We invested N307.4 billion on roads in 2016 and N208 billion in 2017.
“Capital spending for the Transport sector has also been remarkable. It was N6.49 billion in 2015, N143.1 billion in 2016 and N133.9 billion in 2017. From where we are coming from, it is a huge chunk, taking it from N6 billion to N133 billion. And there are so many other projects and sectors like that,” the minister stated.
In his address at the Investors Forum, which has as theme “Consolidating the Gains and Accelerating Growth”, Governor Amosun disclosed that the State attracted 148 new industries that invested between a minimum of $200 million and in excess of $2 billion in the past seven years.
He noted that the State Government had improved the enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
“No investment can flourish in an unsecure environment. We made significant investments in our security infrastructure and architecture, and built strong collaborations with the security services, so as to guarantee the security of lives and property,” he said.
Amosun further noted that the State Government had entered into a partnership with a private firm to develop the Lisabi Independent Power Project in Abeokuta.
“This 12 megawatts power plant has been completed and is ready for commissioning. We have also signed MoUs with eight private power providers for the establishment of a total of 314 megawatts IPP in different parts of our State,” the Governor said.
He assured existing and prospective investors of the safety of their investments in the state, adding that improved approaches have been adopted by the State Government to consolidate the gains of the last few years.