The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, has told the leadership of the National Assembly that since government alone cannot shoulder the provision of critical infrastructure and provide investment capital needed to drive the process, it has decided to not just partner with the private sector for investment funds, but also make the environment attractive to investors.
To achieve its goal, he explained that federal government must target its investment drive significantly at investors with the capacity to boost the economy and create jobs for Nigerians, which is why it is embarking on the labs to fashion out a strategic direction and then conduct a mass crowdsourcing of ideas to mobilise resources into the focused areas.
The minister stated this while briefing the leadership of the National Assembly on Wednesday as part of the continuation of the Executive/Legislative engagement on critical plans and activities of government and the Economic recovery focus labs which kicks off in Abuja, next month.
He explained that the focus labs are aimed at driving the critical sectors of the economy to achieve the strategic objectives of the ERGP which are restoring economic growth, investing in the people and building a globally competitive economy.
Udoma added that it was because of government’s determination to actualize the strategic objectives of the major enabling sectors of the ERGP that it decided to set up the focus labs with a view to unlocking investment potential that are being stalled due to bureaucratic bottlenecks; and in the process, fast-track the projects to enable investors mobilise their investments.
He added that the labs are aimed at fast-tracking the attainment of the set objectives and to deliver quick and fast results to the citizens, by identifying actionable projects and removing roadblocks that have been impeding their implementation.
According to him, ‘’For the ERGP implementation programme, the labs would, therefore, provide an avenue to further drill down government’s economic recovery efforts in the initial focused areas of Agriculture and Transportation, Manufacturing and Processing, and Power and Gas.
“The labs will also identify catalytic Entry Point Projects (EPPs) that would mobilise private investment projects to spearhead investment and job creation in the specific sectors and drive the economy towards achieving the ERGP targets by 2020.
“The three main objectives of the labs are mobilizing new investments for critical projects, resolution of complex inter-agency problems that inhibit private sector investment and job creation for Nigerians. The labs are being executed in three phases: Pre-lab January 15 to March 4; Main lab, March 5 to April 15 and Post-lab, April 15 to May 13, 2018.’’
The minister pointed to the positive trends already being generated in the economy by the initiatives and reforms of government, which he said started manifesting in 2017, adding that it is an indication that the initiatives are working.
Specifically, he noted that the GDP has returned to a positive growth path while the performance of other macro indicators is also encouraging and indicating that confidence has started coming back, adding that capital importation is improving, foreign reserves are growing, the inflation rate is declining and the exchange rate gap is narrowing.
He said that government is working tirelessly to create a better environment for doing business; saying part of such efforts was the setting up of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), which set for itself a target of moving 20 places up the World Bank Ease of Doing Business ladder.
Udoma added that the effort yielded result last year when the country surpassed the target of 20 to move 24 places in the ranking from 169 to 145.