Nigerian Economy on Solid Path to Recovery with 5.01% Growth—FG
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The federal government has expressed satisfaction with the 5.01 per cent growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) for the second quarter of 2021.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said this shows that the Nigerian economy was on the solid path to recovery.
Mrs Ahmed, while speaking at an Executive Intelligence Management Course 14 of the National Institute for Security Studies (NISS), Bwari, Abuja, said the administration of Mr Muhammadu Buhari has shown a strong commitment to sustainable development, governance and security despite the nation’s limited revenues.
At the event themed Governance, Security and Sustainable Development in Africa: Nexus, Challenges and Prospects, the Minister said, “The most recent GDP data which reports real growth of 5.01 per cent in the second quarter of 2021 is very encouraging news as it indicates the Nigerian economy is on a solid path to recovery.
“It is important to note that much of the growth was driven by the expansion of the non-oil sector of the economy where most Nigerians are employed.”
She further said due to its importance to every sector, especially the economy, the central government has made funds available to security.
“As an example, about 86 per cent of the 2021 Supplementary Budget was dedicated to the capital and recurrent expenditure needs of the security agencies to supplement the allocations in the 2021 amended budget,” she said.
While speaking on some key governance and security initiatives spearheaded by the Ministry and its agencies, Mrs Ahmed said that through Project Lighthouse, the federal government has been able to aggregate N5.2 trillion worth of debts owed to the government by third parties, of which N49.7 billion of this amount has been recovered.
She also said another initiative is the Treasury Single Account (TSA), a unified structure of government bank accounts that enables consolidation and optimum utilisation of government cash resources.
In addition, she said her ministry came up with the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), an IT-based system for budget management and accounting to improve public financial management processes and enhance accountability and transparency across all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government.
Mrs Ahmed also said in order to modernise tax administration in Nigeria, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) introduced TaxPro Max, while the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) designed the e-Customs Project meant to fully automate administrative processes by introducing innovative measures that eliminate paper-based functions.
The Minister, in addition, said another policy is the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme (RITCS) launched by President Buhari through Executive Order Number 7 signed on January 25, 2019.
“It is designed to leverage private sector capital, efficiency and expertise to construct, repair and maintain critical road infrastructure in key economic corridors and industrial clusters in Nigeria. The scheme relieves the government of the burden of funding significant outlays for road projects through the annual budget.
“Essentially, the RITCS utilises tax expenditures, by way of tax credits, to finance the construction of critical road and bridge infrastructure through an innovative public-private partnership (PPP) mechanism that incentivises private sector participation. Since inception, Mr President has approved a total of 33 road projects, totalling 1,564.95 km being undertaken in 19 States across the six geo-political zones of the country,” she said.
She also highlighted the Open Government Partnership (OGP), an international multi-stakeholder initiative focused on improving transparency, accountability, citizen participation and government responsiveness to citizens through technology and innovation.
“Since joining the partnership in July 2016, Nigeria has made progress in deepening transparency, accountability and openness in the management of public resources, especially in terms of the budget process,” she said.
Mrs Ahmed further stated that the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) in December 2019 launched the Open Treasury Portal, a platform aimed to enhance the accountability of government by detailing and tracking federal government spending data through the publishing of monthly fiscal accounts, as well as daily treasury and payment reports amongst others by MDAs.