The private sector has been enjoined to show greater commitment to the Federal Government’s desire to make the country self-sufficient in essential goods and services in the shortest possible time.
On its part, the government has pledged to create the necessary environment to enable robust private sector involvement in growing and sustaining the country’s economy.
The Minister of Budget and National Panning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the closing of the three-day National Economic Summit in Abuja on Wednesday, said government acknowledges the role played so far by the private sector in the growth of the country’s economy, but asked participants to leave the conference venue with a greater commitment to growing a sustainable economy for the country.
Senator Udoma who expressed the profound gratitude of the President for the support and pledge of further support by the private sector operators said government acknowledges the critical role of the private sector as the catalyst for economic growth and is determined this time around to make the diversification policy a reality; and thus requires the involvement of all stakeholders to make the project both sustainable and inclusive.
“To spend two and half days deliberating on economic issues in Nigeria, spending two and half days supporting government, extending your support and promising to work together with government to solve issues that we face; this is something that we are very grateful”, Udoma conveyed the President’s appreciation.
He said the President is looking forward to the report of the Summit as was indicated in his address at the opening.
”He is waiting anxiously for the recommendations because of the importance of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group. He knows the importance of working closely with the private sector. In the course of the last two and half days, we have heard very useful suggestions. Many of them actually re-enforced some of the things that we believe in, and already doing; and so, we feel that it is a re-enforcement of the fact that we are moving in the right direction.”
The Minister said what government needs to do is to engage more and communicate more so that it can get the necessary support from the private sector. “If we have to solve these problems, we have to work together with the private sector, we have to work with the States and we have to work with the National Assembly. It is by bringing everybody together that we can achieve the successes which we need, which we want and which we desire.”
He disclosed that government is working on producing a more comprehensive document which would provide appropriate information to assist in investment decisions. “I just want to explain that when we came in, we all knew we had a problem. When the President was campaigning, he knew Nigeria was in bad shape, so he came to solve the problem and we are determined to solve the problem; and we came up with an initial plan, the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP), which was a short term plan, and we are working on a longer term plan which should be out by the end of the year, as promised in that document”.
The new development blueprint, he explained, will be a much more comprehensive plan and will embody all the policies of government covering all the sectors, brought together in a single document and easy to access by investors and businesses. Some of the sectoral plans, including those on Agriculture, Solid minerals Trade and Industries, have already been approved by the Federal Executive Council.
He reminded the gathering of top businessmen and women from Nigeria and other African countries that the President is determined to pursue government’s desire to move away from a mono-product economy to a regime where Nigeria will be self-sufficient in the provision of food and other essential products and services.
Describing the theme of the Summit “Made-in-Nigeria” as apt, the Minister said it reflects the things the President wants to achieve – produce our own food, produce our own textiles and most of the things Nigerians use. “Of course nobody is suggesting that we can be an exclusive world, no; but we can have a situation whereby at least in a number of important essential items, we can say we are self-sufficient.”
This he said, is absolutely necessary because given the country’s large population, it cannot afford to import everything it requires.
Earlier, the Summit presented to the President the summary and recommended action plan in which the Presidency and Niger Delta State Governments were urged to urgently take pragmatic steps to end the Niger Delta crisis in order to boost oil production and provide respite to the biting economy, boost government revenues and reduce exchange rate pressure.
It also suggested the full implementation of the proposed Presidential Council on Ease of Doing Business, fast-track the passage of bills and amendment of Acts that improve ease of doing business; as well as establish the National Research and Innovation Fund.
The Presidency and the National Assembly were enjoined to enact legislation to support the take-off of the new development finance institution and for the Central Bank to review the list of items excluded from the FOREX market.