Prof Emmanuel Nnadozie, an economist and development expert, has advised the Federal Government to see the current oil price fall as an opportunity for the country rather than a crisis.
Nnadozie gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
“The way forward is to see this economic crisis or crisis of price collapse as opportunity and not crisis because for far too long, Nigeria has been talking about diversification, economic transformation, agricultural modernisation and massive industrialisation.
“But it has never happened, at least not to extent it should happen.
“I think now, this is the opportunity and the time we need to tackle this problem and make the necessary investment in energy and rail infrastructure.
“And do everything possible to improve the business environment so that businesses will be able to invest and utilise the resources that are here,’’ he said.
According to him, prudence is very important in the use of resources of the country and we should avoid the excesses and wastages of the past.
He said that government must ensure it plugged and stopped the leakages in the economy to maximise the amount of revenue that were available.
He advised government to improve revenue collection, adding that Nigeria had not done well in mobilising available resources.
“There some efficiency issues that are there, but largest proportion of the problem is the illicit financial outflows.
“ We are losing millions of dollars every day in the year. For the whole of the continent about 50 to 60 billion dollars are lost and Nigeria is number one in the list.
“So, we really have to stop that by paying attention to strengthening the capacity of all the stakeholders, organisations or departments that work in that area,’’ he said.
The expert listed some of these agencies to include Ministry of Finance, Central Bank, Custom agencies, the legal profession and specialised accountants.
He said government must stop all kinds of tax avoidance mechanism and evasion as well as siphoning money out of the country.
“We must begin to do something to improve the environment for doing business and serious attention to economic diversification right now, and of course, do some belt tightening.
On the devaluation of the naira, he suggested that the exchange rate policy had to be looked at very carefully.
“My suggestion will be if the administration is in doubt, it should bring different parties together, representatives of businesses, other stakeholders and other non governmental organisations to have a discussion with them and understand what their own points of view are.
“ They will be surprised what they will learn. That will help government too to know what policies to go for.
“But the reason why you have exchange rate variations is just because often times, you have to allow your exchange rate or do some devaluation to release the pressure you have on your currency,” he said.
He commended the effort of the central bank in protecting the currency, but said that it might not have the capacity to police even those it supported with foreign exchange for genuine reasons. .(NAN)