President Muhammadu Buhari has told his 36 ministers to think outside the box in order to save the country from the current economic recession.
Buhari said this while addressing his ministers at the Ministerial Retreat on the Economy and the Budget at the State House Banquet Hall in Abuja on Thursday.
He said, “Indeed, the challenges we face in the current recession require ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking, to deploy strategies that involve engaging meaningfully with the private sector, to raise the level of private sector investment in the economy as a whole.
“We are confident that the level of private investment will grow as we are determined to make it easier to do business in Nigeria by the reforms we are introducing under the auspices of the Presidential Committee on Ease of Doing Business.”
The President said the theme of the retreat, “Building Inter-ministerial Synergy for Effective Planning and Budgeting in Nigeria,” was very apt and timely, especially as “we are in the process of developing the 2017 Budget.”
He said over the years, there had been a mismatch between planned targets and budgetary outcomes at the national and at the level of various sectors.
Buhari lamented that federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies had not benefited significantly from working together and building consensus around common national objectives thereby impeding the development of the country.
He added, “This retreat is coming at a critical time in our economic history, when the Nigerian economy is in a recession, with significant downturn in performance in various sectors. It is with regard to the importance of this retreat that I decided to sit through the first part of the session to listen to the views of experienced economists and development experts on how best to implement our plans to rid the country of its oil dependence and to diversify the economy and bring the country out of the current economic recession.”
He said following recommendations, some ministries might get significantly less capital allocation than they received in 2016, while others might get significantly more.
The President said some key non-spending agencies, such as the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission; the Bureau of Public Enterprises; the National Sovereign Investment Authority; and the National Pension Commission were included in the retreat in order to leverage on private sector resources, through Public Private Partnerships and other arrangements, in order to “augment the scarce budgetary resources at our disposal and to accelerate investments in building critical infrastructure.”
The President called on the National Assembly, the state and local governments to join hands with him to bring the country out of the recession.
The Minister for Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udoma, said the retreat was important “to ensure that the 2017 budget is better than that of 2016.”
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, sympathised with Nigerians on the state of the economy.
She promised that things would soon change for the better.
Adeosun added, “We did not anticipate the impact of the much awaited crisis which of course is built on our revenue which is down significantly. We have a credible plan and that plan is based on the need to invest in our infrastructure and each of the experts spoke on that. That is the only solution for Nigeria to take us out of this situation and we are working on that.”