Expectedly, the new year messages from this governors and Mr. President gave assurances of a better year.
Nigerians were asked to team up with the government to make a success of policies and road maps, earmark or clue for the turn of the country’s economy.
Apart from the new year messages of hope, the Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) also gave the country a strong indication of a better 2018.
In its 2018 economic outlook report released on Friday, the last working day of 2017, the the chamber reported that the nation gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow at between 3% and 4% in 2018. This was premised on the fact that the fundamentals of the economy are improving with numerous opportunities and potentials to catalyse growth and improve on meconomic recovery.
The report of the Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and INDUSTRY (LCCI) also noted that crude oil prices and output level have recovered. While foreign reserve is improving and inflation is on its steady decline. However, for the country to sustain its present recovery and achieve the growth forecast, aggressive investment in infrastructure is necessary to boost productivity in the economy.
Good news, cheering news I must say, but an average Nigerian would however love it to transform the food on his table, at least to live a comfortable life.
• How do we convert all the good news about the improvement of the economy to reality?
• What are the projections for a better Nigeria?
DRIVERS OR INDICATIONS OF A BETTER YEAR
According to the Director General of the Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and industry (LCCI), Mr. Muda Yusuf, the chamber came up with a forecast growth of between 3% to 4% for the country’s GDP by looking at the economic fundamentals because there are quite a number of drivers to growth of the GDP.
“And by the way, when we talk about the GDP we are also talking about the level of economic activities and the general volume of outputs in the economy. By the close of 2017, the fundamentals of the economy were looking very good, starting from the point where we exited recession up to the time they decided to record some marginal growth of about 1.4%.
And the fact that, our external reserve was already at US $38.7 billion at the close of 2017, that is a record in recent time. These are some of the fundamentals that inspired confidence in an economy and it is confidence that drives investment, likewise, it is investment that drives growth.
And if you look at some other fundamentals, such as oil price, at the closure of 2017 it was already at the threshold of 56 dollars per barrel. Also from the investors and exporters windows, the country got US $22 billion dollars, this is almost equal to the national budget. And alot of initiatives has also taken place from the part of government on the ease of doing business and all of that. So, taking all this together shows that 2018 looks much better. When confidence is growing investment is likely to increase.” He said.
The new year speech of the president dwells alot on infrastructure which is one of the biggest challenges that we have. Because, if we serve the mapping economy fundamentals that are good without complementing it with the right infrastructure we will not achieve as much as we desire.
There is a lot of emphasis on infrastructure, such as road construction, railway, and all of that. All these are also very critical to productivity in an economy; productivity that drives growth. If we are able to deal with all of these, we may surpass the details of the forecast growth.
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT THE COMMON MAN
For the common man, some of these language may be esoteric. The Director General of the Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Muda Yusuf emphasised that common man knows that the exchange rate of naira to dollar has dropped.
“Some 9 months ago, the tomatoes sellers say there are issues with the exchange rate.
But today, from a peak of about 500 naira to $1 we are talking of about 360 naira to the 1$. So, even the man in the street knows that positive things are happening. As long as we have growth the level of economic activities will continue to increase. Likewise, the more the increase in economic activities the more the demand for goods and services.
“Just like the inflation for instance, it is threading downward. The inflation rate is about 15% from a height close to 18% earlier in the year. As long as inflation persist to thread downward and the investors confidence increases (just like I said it is investment that drives growth. It is investment that leads to creation of jobs) definitely, the common man would feel the improvement. Because employment is likely to improve, taxes are also likely to thread downward, manufacturers are likely to get better access to foreign exchange and all of that.
And the government also talk about more investment in infrastructure. Infrastructure is a major head ache, such as power, road, rail system, all these will ultimately impact positively on the common people. But, one major issue, despite alot of things to do in infrastructure, funding are also important. Because, I don’t see the funding taking place comfortably within the framework of the budget. And a very little was said about policies to be put in place for more private capital to be able to support government to deliver.
“And more importantly, there is an emergency at the oil and gas sector. We need to look at its governance and the policies holistically and see how to open more space to unlock jobs and revenue from it.” He said.
WHAT’S NEXT BEYOND INFRASTRUCTURE
Our institutions needs to support the initiative of the president. They should key into what the president has said. There are still a lot of challenges in terms of supporting investment or even making sure that the right resources and commitments are demonstrated to support the achievement of government objectives. So, there is a lot that needs to be done to encourage and to get our institutions to support investment and decision of government, such as passing executive orders to various institutions on what should be done. We need to get the bureaucracy on board in other to achieve our aims.
Nigerians have hope that the economy would be in order, but more importantly we don’t just hope and then leave our responsibilities. The government must ensure realistic targets are met and the government should also ensure that everybody are on board to harness the brilliant minds so that every thing works for the better.
Credit: Director General of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Muda Yusuf via “Fact File” @ Raypower Network Radio 100.5 FM