President Muhammadu Buhari said that his administration would not rest on its oars until the recorded improvement in the country’s economic indexes translated to visible improvement in the lives of Nigerians.
The President made this known in Abuja while inaugurating the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) Focus Labs.
According to him, in the past ten months, his administration has achieved several noteworthy milestones.
“As you are aware, economic growth returned in second quarter of 2017 due to a clear follow-through of some of the economic initiatives we set out to implement.
“Since then, we have consolidated on the recovery path reaching a Real GDP growth of 1.92 per cent by the fourth quarter of 2017.
“We have also restored stability in foreign exchange market and have recorded improvements in our foreign reserves which have grown from 24 billion US dollars in September 2016 to 42 billion US dollars by mid-February 2018 and now 46 billion US dollars.
“This has been achieved partially because of the recovery of oil prices on the international market.
“We have made remarkable strides in creating a conducive business environment for investors, earning the World Bank’s ranking as one of the Top 10 most improved economies in 2017.
“This has encouraged both local and foreign investments in the last few months.’’
President Buhari maintained that the Federal Government would continue working to attract both local and foreign investments so as to expand economic activities thereby creating additional jobs for the people.
He said the Federal Government remained committed to working hard to attain its target of moving up in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings by 2020.
He added that the government was also investing billions of naira in fixing infrastructures across the country.
President Buhari also maintained that significant progress had also been made in the Agricultural sector with the expansion of the Anchor Borrower’s programme to more beneficiaries to boost local production across the country.
He said, “We plan to build upon the success of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative to double the 500,000 metric tons of fertilizer delivered to States, agro-dealers and farmers in 2017, by achieving production output of 1 million metric tons in 2018.’’
According to the President, the Focus Labs constitute one of the many strategies his administration is taking to ensure that the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan is effectively implemented.
He said that the key goals of the plan were focused on achieving sustainable, diversified and inclusive growth, becoming self-sufficient in basic commodities to curtail food imports and diversifying the nation’s economic base from crude oil dependence.
The President added that the ERGP was also aimed at empowering local businesses to create thousands of jobs and, improving the general well-being of the people.
He noted that the Focus Labs had been successfully used in other countries, adding that the Labs in Nigeria were designed as closed-door investment platforms to identify and accelerate high-impact projects with significant impact on GDP and job creation.
“The Labs will also enable pre-screened private sector investors to have access to senior government officials, regulators, and cabinet ministers.
“The goal is to efficiently and effectively resolve the most pressing bottlenecks delaying their proposed investments,” he stated.
He said he had already directed the relevant Ministers and heads of government agencies to be available to the participants at the labs to respond to their inquiries and issues.
The President commended the Ministry of Budget and National Planning and other relevant agencies for piloting the process, which he said, was being used for the first time in Nigeria.
He, therefore, expressed the hope that the Labs would open up new investments to complement government’s existing efforts at ensuring agricultural, manufacturing and infrastructural development nationwide.
“I look forward to receiving regular updates on the progress of the Labs,’’ he added.
In his remark, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, expressed appreciation to the President for inaugurating the Focus Labs.
He commended the Buhari administration for restoring the confidence of both local and foreign investors in the country’s economy.