Nigerian Economic Summit, 2015, which ended Thursday, in Abuja, has provided a platform for stakeholders in both private and public sector of the nation’s economy to discuss the way forward for the country’s economics, LINUS OOTA reports.
Nigerian Economic Summit, NES, which ended Thursday in Abuja, is an annual event that is jointly organised by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG and the National Planning Commission, NPC, in close collaboration with relevant institutions in the public and private sectors.
The Summit, which was initiated in 1993 by the Chief Ernest Shonekan led Interim National Government, has remained the foremost platform for dialogue between the public and private sectors to discuss issues and challenges facing the development of the nation’s economy with a view to developing and harmonising common strategies for addressing them. It aims at fostering open and continuous dialogues on Nigeria’s economic development.
The major objective of the Summit is to create enabling environment that is conducive for good governance, responsive private sector investment and sustainable economic growth and development of the Nigerian economy. In that regard, the summit brings together chief executives/top level operators from the private sector and very senior government officials to discuss how best to develop the Nigerian economy and monitor the implementation of government policies programmes and projects.
The summit focuses on developing the short to medium term policy direction for the country that are in line with national interest taking cognisance of the evolving global economy.
The recommendations made by the NES usually become part of Government Policy upon presentation of same to the Federal Executive Council by the Minister for National planning. The Summit process is therefore one of the significant drivers for the evolution of many of the reform initiatives that the government has largely accepted and have been gradually implementing over the years.
It has provided an entrenched platform for dialogue and collaboration between the public and private sectors and, indeed, among the various stakeholders in the development of the Nigerian economy.
Speaking on the 2015 NESG, the Chief Executive officer of the NESG Laoye Jaiyeola explain that the objective of the 2015 summit was to facilitate stakeholders discussions/agreements about how best to achieve competitiveness and inclusive growth in a sustainable way, through measurable outcome as well as to push for permanent structural changes that would allow inclusive growth.
He said that the summit also considered the current economic realities facing Nigeria occasioned by declining crude oil price in the international market, the foreign exchange crisis as well as significant capital outflows from the system thus putting government in a very challenging situation that beckons for tough choices to be made with respect to ensuring economic stability.
“Achieving competitiveness in a sustainable manner, dealings with structural weakness as well as rebuilding our institutions” he said
The focus of the 2015 NESG as reflected by the theme, “21st Nigeria Economic Summit, Tough Choices: Achieving Competitiveness, Inclusive Growth and Sustainability, was informed by the new challenges confronting the economy in the light of sharp decline in crude oil prices.
Key outcomes include specific recommendations on how to: create jobs; dismantle the pillars of corruption; establish and build upon pillars of sustainable growth and development, which include macro-economic stability and growth (fiscal and monetary policy reforms, restructure Federal Government revenues) Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, SME growth (reforms to improve funding mechanisms and further diversify the economy); Institutional reforms (accountability, ICT, etc) and Competitiveness (infrastructure, policy bottlenecks, human development, etc); Align our home-grown long-term development agenda with the UN Sustainable Development Goals that will take effect in January 2016.
Speaking while delivering his keynote address, the Vice President, Professor Osinbajo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari promised that the Federal Government will continue to work with NESG and other stakeholders in the private sector to ensure that most of the recommendations from the summit would be looked at and implemented to a large extent.
He said, “Professionalism is being encouraged, aimed at entrenching the culture of integrity, accountability and rule of law in the system. We also aimed at creating the enabling environment to enhance competitiveness to thrive for institutional reform. In terms of specific, some of the institutional reform issues include revenue diversification issues, and efficiency of tax collection.
“In terms of policy coordination, we are working together with the states. We are presently trying to put together to produce the document for economic planning in the nearest future. Nigeria being a federation, we have initiated collaboration between the federal and states for the economies of the states and federal government. In terms of working together, the National Economic Council, NEC is coordinating and in the meetings, we were able to take on power and agriculture.
“The absence of proper coordination had created difficulties in the past, hence the reason for this initiative for proper harmonization and coordination of government policies. We have tried to adopt the policy of transparency on the federation earnings, which had always been an issue between the states and federal government”
Also speaking, Chairman of NESG who doubles as the Chief Executive Officer, Central Securities Clearing System, CSCS Limited, Mr. Kyari Abba Bukar, said, “This year’s summit is particularly significant for two reasons, first because the country has witnessed for the first time a change in administration characterised by a party other than the traditional ruling party occupying the central seat of government and second because of the current dynamics on economic scene that require urgent attention.”
The former Prime Minister of Georgia, Nila Gilauri, shared the transformation that took place in his country, saying this is the right time for Nigeria to toe the part of transformation and reforms.
He said his country was at one point in its history also had a low ranking in the Ease of Doing Business Index, similar to Nigeria’s current ranking adding that, it took conscious effort of enthroning reforms that now makes Georgia to be ranked ahead of Nigeria on the index.
He said for instance while it will take about 77 days to register a business in Nigeria, it takes just a day to do same in Georgia, a country of about 4 million people. According to him, while it will take an investor about 260 days to obtain construction permit in Nigeria, it will take just 12 days in Georgia.
Commenting on Gilauri’s presentation, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Former Minister of Education, noted that, the Georgian reform is a world-class reform that we used when I was at the World Bank, when it wanted to get governments to buy necessities for reform. What it does is to tell each country it can be done.
Citing Honkung, Australia, she said that those societies got to the point where they realised that the cost of corruption was too high for everybody, that even those that benefited on net aggregate fall victim of corruption. The clamour for change is universal, but requires leaders and leadership to take place.
Also speaking, Director of Bureau of Public Service Reform, Dr. Joe Abah, said, “We have made a proposal on how we want to carry out reforms in the public service. Following that, we have made reviews of agencies and parastatal. Public service reforms in the last two years have focused too heavily on ministries but it is the agencies that are closer to the people and that can deliver on services. We should focus very seriously on agency reforms. Much duplication has to be addressed. We should set out framework through which we can rationalise these agencies. We need to add additional focus to what the agencies deliver and cost of running them.