By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari says the federal government has empowered over 1.1 million businesses through the Micro Small And Medium Enterprises Survival Fund which was launched to support businesses ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The President stated this during his address at the 27th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES27) Organized by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) in collaboration with the federal minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning with the theme “Securing Our Future: The Fierce Urgency of Now”.
Buhari stated that “The Covid-19 has had far reaching implications on businesses and the socio- economic impact has been huge. The shock of the pandemic even came at a time that Nigeria is striving to be a digital economy.
“However, the federal government is responding to challenges and opportunities as the economic sustainability plan was introduced to tackle Covid-19, rescue businesses and sustain growth and investment in human and social capital.
“The results are beginning to show especially in the area of GDP growth which appreciated by 5.01, and inflation which has been on a downward trend.
“Also to support our MSMEs who are the highest contributors to GDP, 1.1 million establishments were supported through the MSMEs survival fund, and we are also providing support for exporters and labour intensive observations.
“The AFCFTA calls for action to position the economy and while at the same time protecting our key sectors of health and infrastructure in a sustainable manner .
Buhari who was represented by the Vice, President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo said the summit serves as a commitment between public and private sector towards Nigeria’s economic growth for the past 27 years.
He said the outcome of the summits has contributed to economic policies and projects while providing an opportunity to preview the development of the economy and make frantic efforts for the future.
He said the theme for this year’s summit, “Securing our future: the fierce urgency of Now” is apt and geared towards achieving national objectives.
Also in her address, the minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed says the Summit is important in harnessing critical and strategic partnerships towards economic recovery and resilience.
She said a globally competitive Nigeria at the forefront of advances in medium and high-tech manufacturing, characterized by increased product complexity and leveraging on our natural endowments, can only be achieved through synergy between the private and public sector.
She said security a formidable future will only be achieved by the dedication and hard work of all stakeholders, with leadership at the Federal, State and Local Government levels and in collaboration with the corporate sector.
Her words: “The business sector is a key engine of growth that must play a crucial role in achieving the future we envisage. To realize this future, a paradigm shift is incontrovertible. This will entail comprehensive and targeted reforms, a reorientation of our national values, and a radical shift in our attitudes to taxation and public financial management. This is consistent with the focus of this Administration on targeted investment in critical infrastructure and social development.
“Already, Government is leading key interventions and reforms to achieve these goals. We have prioritised investment in critical soft and hard infrastructure across the country such as roads, rail, schools and hospitals, delivered through the Annual Federal Budgets. The Annual Finance Acts, an important innovation introduced by this Administration, are also key tools for effecting fiscal policy change and incentivising private sector actors.
” We also recognise the need for increased domestic resource mobilisation as evidenced by the implementation of the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative (SRGI), an important intervention which is already yielding positive results in stimulating non-oil revenue growth. In addition, we have concluded work on the Medium-Term National Development Plan for 2021-2025 which sets the development agenda for sustainable growth driven by new and emerging economic sectors.
“However, Government cannot drive the required investments on its own and acknowledges the need to continue to incentivise private sector participation in the much-needed economic transformation of our country.
“The required investments and policy changes must be implemented in a sustainable and inclusive manner, ensuring that the needs of the present do not compromise the prosperity of future generations. Thus, in developing interventions, the wellbeing of present and future citizens of Nigeria must be guaranteed,”
Delivering a keynote address, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe says a guaranteed future for Nigerians will reflect to the growth and development of the the African continent.
He said many have lost their source of livelihoods due to Covid-19 pandemic, increasing insecurity, poverty as well as non-inclusive growth, which have combined to highlight the urgent need to come together to secure the future of the continent.
He said considering the happenings in many economies, the theme of the conference is apt considering the socio-economic challenges that has pervaded African economies.
He said investing in agriculture is very key and has been part of the secrets of the the economic success of Ethiopia
“The three key efforts while leading Ethiopia and it’s economy are committment to accelerate and rapid economic growth, agric development and industrialization and strong International partnerships.
“In Ethiopia, successive administration has set great efforts especially from 2000 when it had a sustained growth rate of 10% per annum and every economy that wants to grow must set a target of at least 7%.
“In Nigeria, agriculture is neglected since independence, and this is seen in their national budget which is below 5%. As such, if the economy must grow, there must be investment in agriculture”, he stated.
On solutions, he said “To grow the economy, I will suggest that adoption of micro economic policies and adoption of huge budget to farmers is import, rapid and sustainable growth is relevant.
“It is important to pay attention to cross border trade with the coming of AFCFTA, there must be fiscal and economic stimulus project.
He urged government to implement the resolution on NES27 and secure the future of citizens.
In his welcome address, the Chairman of the NESG, Mr. Asue Ighodalo, says the “The Urgency of Now” is also anchored on leveraging on the greatest opportunities of these times, which require the will to make and implement the right choices, reopen the economy differently and attractively.
According to Mr. Ighodalo, the theme is geared towards challenging leaders to resolve security problems, ensure macroeconomic stability; accelerate our digital and technological capacities; and seizing the competitive African Market space created by the commencement of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Explaining the theme further, the NESG boss added that “The fierce urgency of now implies that unless we take deliberate and focused steps to transform our society, Nigeria will be left far behind not just by the world but also by several emergent bright spots in Africa, and our people will continue to wallow in poverty, hunger, insecurity and division”
He added that the only viable plan that can deliver improved quality of life for the Nigerian people is the commitment of leaders across board, to urgently execute visionary, broad-based policies and programmes to create a great, safe, comfortable, productive, efficient and developed Nigeria.