|Senator Udoma Udo Udoma|
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, who gave the indication on an NTA interview programme, Good Morning Nigeria, on Thursday, said although new ideas have been drafted to urgently drive the process, relevant policies by past administrations are also being evaluated to further give impetus to the project which the present administration considers as critical to its diversification effort.
Senator Udoma who was speaking on the theme of the just concluded National Economic Summit “Made in Nigeria” said the Federal Government is focused on driving those policies and programmes that will further its vision and desire for self-sufficiency in some critical areas of the people’s everyday life in the short term, and which will ultimately lead to long term sustainability of the economy.
“I think it important in anything one does to start with a vision. What is the vision of this government, where do we want to go? The President has indicated that vision, and the vision is that we should produce as much as possible of our own food, produce as much as possible of our own clothes, textiles; that we should consume as much as possible the things that we produce. So, that is the overarching vision. So, we should drive all policies in that direction”, he said.
The Minister pointed out that there already exist a number of policy initiatives by past administrations which are still relevant, and so every government coming in does not have to reinvent the wheel. What needs to be done, he added, is to review or refocus the relevant ones to fit into current realities.
He cited tariffs and incentives, for instance, and said government is already looking into them and trying to refocus some of them. “We are trying to look at the ones that work, keep them in place; the ones that are not working well, tweak them and find out why they are not working. It has to be sector by sector.”
Emphasizing on the need for continuity with relevant policies, the Minister said “we should not condemn everything that was done before. We should see those that work and keep them in place; those that are not working so well, we tweak them further.”
To achieve the vision of government in this direction, he stressed that there was need for constant engagement with the private sector, with the people on the ground and the people who are actually implementing the policies. “We will continue to engage with the private sector in order to address these issues; and that is why the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) is an important forum for that, because in one place, we are able to interact with a wide spectrum of members of the private sector, captains of industry; and we are able to engage with them and identify their issues.”
Senator Udoma said government will go through the recommendations submitted to the President at the end of this year’s Summit, noting that government was already in the process of implementing some of the recommendations.
“The important thing is that as a government, we are extremely receptive to ideas, we know that our role is to provide guidance and the enabling environment; but ultimately, it is the private sector that is going to drive the process, it is the private sector that will produce.”
He drew attention to the fact that the total amount of government consumption is nothing compared to the consumption of the private sector. “When we talk about the economy, the total budget size for 2016 is N6 trillion, but we have an economy that is over N100 trillion; so the difference comes from the private sector, the States and all that.
“And so, our goal is to provide guidance, provide a clear vision, a vision that everyone can leverage on. This is where we want to get. We want a situation where we produce much of the food that we eat, which means agriculture must be supported; the textiles, the clothes that we wear, we must produce most of them, which means manufacturing must be supported. We want, in construction, to use more local materials, so we will support the construction industry; we will examine what components are required in that sector. In building a house, how much of the materials is sourced from outside the country. We look at it sector by sector, item by item and give the necessary support” he summarised.
Media Adviser to the Hon. Minister