Huge investment in infrastructure best way to end Nigeria’s economic recession – Udoma

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Minister of Budget and National Planning Udoma Udo Udoma has said that Nigeria’s best way out of its present economic recession is to invest hugely in infrastructure.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Udoma said, having realized that massive investment in infrastructure is now the way to go out of recession, government has begun to strategize on how to close the infrastructure deficit in the West African country.

“We are looking at ways to restore our revenues and get the economy out of recession and back on the path of sustainable growth,” the official said.

Nigeria’s economy officially entered recession in September. Figures released last week by the National Bureau of Statistics further showed a weak macroeconomic performance when the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in real terms contracted by 2.24 percent year-on-year in Q3.

Recession, which is a major decline in sector-by-sector economic activities lasting more than a few months, is technically indicated by two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth as measured by the country’s GDP.

The present recession has left Nigeria with a bevy of recalcitrant problems, which range from surging inflation to depleted foreign reserves and weaker Naira.

The oil sector, which is Nigeria’s mainstay, is dented by the vagaries of global oil price, the drop in local production of crude oil and the violent activities of militants in the southern region of the country.

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With the drastic drop in oil revenues, Nigeria is facing additional challenge in financing gap in public revenues estimated at about 20 billion U.S. dollars every year amid its present economic downturn.

In spite of the revenue shortfalls experienced during the 2016 budget year, the Nigerian government has so far released about 2.4 billion U.S. dollars (753.6 billion naira) for capital expenditure in the country, Udoma said, adding that the money was targeted at the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, as well as the Ministry of Transportation, to boost infrastructure.

The official confirmed that the government had been having difficulties funding its budget because of the disruptions of oil production in the Niger Delta region.

“At one time, almost half our production was shut in because of pipeline vandalism. This compounded our economic situation and pushed us into the current recession we are experiencing in the country,” he said.

The Nigerian government would open its doors to welcome every genuine idea from experts on how to address the economic challenges and return the country to a path of sustainable development, he added.

On Nov. 1, the Nigerian Senate voted against a request by President Muhammadu Buhari for its approval to source a loan up to 29.9 billion U.S. dollars from the World Bank.

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Buhari, in a letter to the Nigerian Senate, had requested the upper legislative chamber to approve borrowing of the money from the world apex bank, stating it was meant for the prompt implementation of projects which cut across all sectors with special emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, water supply, growth and employment generation, poverty reduction through social safety net programs, governance and financial management reforms, among others.

The Nigerian leader had explained the 2016-2018 borrowing plan was considered following the huge infrastructure deficit currently being experienced in the country, and the enormous financial resources required to fill the gap in the face of dwindling resources and the inability of annual budgetary provisions to bridge the infrastructure deficit.

However, without considering it for a debate, members of the Senate overwhelmingly voted against the loan request, claiming the paper work submitted for approval “was not properly worked on.”

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