Minister of Information Lai Mohammed yesterday attributed Nigeria’s exit from recession to a conscientious effort and not by accident.
Mohammed said the country had been on the path to recession since mid-2014 due to a combination of factors, including the total dependence on a mono product – oil – and the failure to save during the boom years.
The country slipped into recession in the second quarter of last year.
Speaking at the fourth annual conference of the Association of Communication Scholars and Professionals of Nigeria in Kano, the minister said: “Taking Nigeria out of recession did not happen by accident. It is the culmination of months of hard work by the administration and fidelity to its well-articulated economic policies, especially the strategic implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) that was launched on April 5.
“Of course, as you all know, a recession is generally defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP, which measures the economic performance of a country by how much production of goods and services it achieves, usually over the course of a year).
“But things are looking up now. For Nigeria to be out of recession means the Administration has taken some right steps that have culminated in the good news that we are celebrating now. It didn’t just happen.”
The minister listed some of the various impactful programmes of the administration. They include the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme, which currently feeds 3,065,000 pupils in 14 states and employs 36,000 cooks across the country.
The Conditional Cash Transfer that has seen about over 30,000 households benefit from the N5,000 monthly stipend; the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme under which about 120,000 people have benefited from cooperative loans; and the N-power that has employed 200,000 people.
“This positive growth”, the minister stated, “is attributable to both the oil and non-oil sectors of the economy. Growth in the oil sector, which has been negative since Q4 2015, was positive in Q2 2017. It rose by 1.64 per cent as compared to -15.60 in Q1 2017, an increase of up to 17 percentage points.
“The non-oil sector grew by 0.45 per cent in Q2 2017, a second successive quarterly growth after growing 0.72 per cent in Q1 2017. In particular, improvement in the non-oil sector was driven principally by strong growth in agriculture and solid minerals sector, and reversal in the previous contraction of the manufacturing and construction sectors. This shows that the government’s economic diversification programme is working.”
The minister listed other positive developments as a fall in the inflation rate from 18 per cent to 16 per cent as of July 2017; the rise in exports, coupled with a decrease in imports, which brought the country’s trade balance to ?719.4 billion, up from ?671.3 billion; increase in capital inflow that brought the total value of capital imported into Nigeria in the second quarter of 2017 to $1,792.3 million, representing a growth of 95.02 per cent; increase in foreign reserves to a 30-month high of $31.8 billion in July 2017; and appreciation in exchange rate from N520/$ as at 20 February 2017 to N362/$ as at 17th August 2017.”
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma noted that two major objectives were in focus when the ERGP was launched by the President to get the economy out of recession and put it on the path of sustained inclusive and diversified growth.
“Now that we have accomplished the first task, attention will now be on growing the economy as rapidly as we can,” he said.
“We are happy that people are beginning to see the results of the efforts we have been putting through in the last two years to get the economy back on track and to place it on the path of growth and sustained development,” Udoma said,adding that as the economy continues to grow, the people will feel the impact of the growth.
He pointed out that the major focus of government was to reflate the economy through spending in strategic sectors, such as infrastructure, agriculture, solid minerals etc., to galvanise economic activities and empower the people.
Efforts, he said, were concentrated on increasing revenue generation to meet with the challenges of the economy which was why government had been giving attention to, among other things, the challenges of the Niger Delta.
Efforts in this direction yielded real growth in the oil sector by 1.64% (year-on-year) in the second quarter of 2017 representing an increase of 13.26% relative to the rate recorded in the corresponding quarter in 2016. Growth also increased by 17.24% when compared to the first quarter of 2017. Quarter on quarter, the oil sector grew by 7.52% in the second quarter of 2017 and the contribution to the total GDP in the second quarter of 2017 is 8.89%., according to the NBS report.
Udoma said it was gratifying to note that the growth recorded is broad-based, as the non-oil sector showed improvements in the last two quarters. For instance, Agriculture sector continued to grow, recording a 3.01% growth in the second quarter of 2017.
He also noted that Industry recorded positive growth of 1.45% during the same period while manufacturing which has been recording negative growth for most parts of 2015 and throughout 2016, turned positive in the first quarter of 2017 and increased by 0.64% in the second quarter.
Udoma, however, admitted that it was still early days as much more work needs to be done to ensure that the growth is sustained.
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