Fed Govt to unveil national assets for sale ― Udoma

MINISTER of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma on Tuesday said Federal Government would soon disclose those national assets being proposed for immediate sale to ease current cash constraints.

He also disclosed that at least N150 billion was inserted in the 2017 budget proposal to kick start implementation of aspects of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

Speaking during a media briefing on EPRG 2017-2020 launched by President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday last week, Udoma explained that “to begin the process of restoring the economy we made a deliberate choice to pursue an expansionary fiscal policy as set out in the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) for the 2016 Budget of Change.”

He then allayed fears that mounting debts are likely to affect development as close to 70 percent of government revenues is now being devoted to debt service payments.

“The problem we have is not debt but low revenue. Once the revenue goes up. The target is getting our revenues up. We have said that in the short term, we will dispose some national assets to free additional revenue. And a committee has already been set up by government to determine which assets to be disposed.

“In the medium term, the solution is to improve the level of tax collection. Not the tax rate but the level of collection. At the moment out tax to GDP ratio is six percent when the average for Africa, it is 15 percent and in most countries of Europe, it is 30 percent.  Once we are able to raise tax ratio to 15 percent, our revenue will triple.”

Udoma disclosed that many of the initiatives in the ERGP are captured in the 2017 budget proposal currently before the National Assembly.

“For instance, the 2017 Budget Proposals makes provision for the sum of N50 billion as FGN’s contribution for Special Economic Zones. Provision has also been made of N100 billion to support the Social Housing Fund. Also counterpart funds for the rail projects and for the Mambilla Hydro-Electric Power Project.”

Speaking on strategies for implementation, the Minister explained noted that a more detailed implementation road map was being drawn up by a team of experts who are working with officials of the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, together with officials of other MDAs.

“They will be working out a more detailed cost estimate and financing plan, with detailed KPIs and so on.”

In addition, a delivery unit was being set up in the Presidency, while government would also rely on use of Implementation Task-forces.

These Task-forces are to focus on the key execution priorities, which include agriculture and food security; energy which includes power and petroleum products sufficiency; transportation infrastructure and; industrialization, focusing on small and medium enterprises.

Udoma identified some of the key deliverables of the plan to include 4.6 percent average real GDP growth rate over the Plan period with 7% by 2020; single digit inflation rate by 2020; crude oil output of 2.2 million barrels per day (mbps) by 2017 rising to 2.5 mbpd in 2020; at least 10 gigawatts of operational electricity capacity by 2020; and 11.23 percent unemployment rate by 2020 from 13.9 percent in third quarter of 2016;

Others are: creating over 15 million direct jobs by 2020 – created in agriculture, manufacturing, construction, services, etc.; manufacturing sector average annual growth of 8.5 percent, peaking 10.6 percent by 2020 agriculture average annual growth rate of 6.9% over the Plan period; self-sufficiency in rice and wheat in 2018 and 2020, respectively; and attaining 60 percent reduction in imports of refined petroleum products by 2018 and net exporter of refined crude by 2020.

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