*FG’s economic reforms important for sustainable growth – World Bank
Nigeria is well on course to effectively tackle the issues of poverty and unemployment through its micro-economic planning and Social Investment Programmes, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Prof. Osinbajo said this today when he received at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, a delegation of senior officials from the World Bank, led by the World Bank Group Executive Director from Italy, Mr Patrizio Pagano.
The group of 10 Executive Directors on a working visit to Nigeria represent 93 countries from across the world, Africa, all around the world, Asia, Central America and Europe.
The Vice President further said the Buhari administration was determined to tackle the issue of corruption so as to bring economic prosperity for Nigeria.
He said, “There is a tendency to assume that if we get just a number of things right in our micro-economic planning, for instance, to promote trade and so on, we would be able to deal with the issues of poverty through a trickle down policy. But unfortunately, here, this is not necessarily the case. We might get the micro issues right and still have the problems, especially of poverty.
“In terms of systematic policy, you have to keep innovating, looking for what works, tweaking it here and there. Also, if you don’t deal with issues around corruption, it becomes difficult, if we allow resources to be pilfered and wasted, then the whole idea of economic prosperity is difficult. So we have programmes and initiatives in place that promotes accountability, like Treasury Single Account, TSA, and other policies.”
Speaking further, Prof. Osinbajo said the Buhari administration’s Social Investment Programmes were targeted at ensuring inclusion and taking millions of Nigerians out of poverty.
He said, “So, the question for us is how to ensure inclusion or inclusivity, how to get millions of our very poor people into the economy, how to structure our budget in such a way that recognises that. That is why we set up the N500 Billion Social Investment Programmes. Though we are not spending anything near that yet, it is an important statement for us to address the question of inclusivity.
“We have the Home Grown School Feeding Programme for instance, that ensures that primary schoolchildren from primary 1 – 3 are fed; we have the N-power that provides a programme for unemployed graduates to get them engaged. The Home Grown School Feeding programme, for instance, addresses the questions of malnutrition, stunting. Enrolment can also be addressed as school feeding incentivises enrolment. There is also the value chain for the School Feeding programme; there are the cooks, farmers, and local farming industry is also spurred.
“We have the Conditional Cash Transfer, a programme in which we are getting full support from the World Bank. We are hoping to do a million, but doing still around 300,000 because identifying the poorest among us has its own challenges and difficulties.
“But there is need to put money in the hands of the poorest, through micro-credit loans, doing small loans or even grants. Then we also have our energizing market programme, these are off-grid solutions where we provide solar power to replace generators that people use in the markets like Ariara in Aba, in other markets in Lagos and Akure, Ondo State. It is cheaper and it is cleaner and we bring in the private sector to install the solar power. We are trying to do this in villages also, putting solar power in homes. We’ve done it in Wuna village, FCT. There is a whole economy that is involved in this. If we are able to work on some of these things it would be possible to move faster in trying to get more people included in the economy.”
On Nigeria’s important role in the region, the Vice President noted that, “Nigeria is very involved in the region in the areas of security. We promote regional cooperation and we also try to address issues of dumping, and the smuggling of rice and poultry products.”
Prof. Osinbajo highlighted the importance of regional cooperation in the area of trade, noting that he had met with the President of Benin recently in Togo, where they discussed ways in which Nigeria and its neighbours could effectively resolve the issue of smuggling.
In his remarks, the World Bank Director, Mr. Patrizio Pagano, commended the Federal Government for its economic reforms, adding that the Bank will fully support the country in achieving sustainable growth.
He said, “It is important that the government keeps pushing on reforms, in particular its sustainability is very important for keeping the pace to increase inclusive growth, going forward. The World Bank is here because its target is to help eradicate poverty and boost prosperity, which means increase the income of the poorest people in the population.
“So we are very much interested in hearing from the government the new strategy: the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan; how it is going forward and we are here to reiterate our support to the government and the fact that the World Bank group is here to help the Nigerian people. We saw also some projects that the bank is doing. We spoke to beneficiaries and we understood how the lives of people are changing.”
Also present at the meeting were the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, and other senior government officials.
In her remarks, Adeosun noted that the World Bank has been Nigeria’s key partner in different areas of development.
She said, “One of the key projects is the power sector reform programme which we are currently negotiating with the World Bank to support reforms in our power sector. We know what kind of growth sorting out the power sector will deliver and we also know what impact having sustainable, regular power will have on the cost of living for the average Nigerian.”
Adeosun noted that the Federal Government was working closely with the World Bank and other partners, adding that the Buhari administration remained determined to reposition the economy.