Private sector operators under the aegis of the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC), have described the need for improved governance to aid improvement in the standard of living of Nigerians, and build an economy that can withstand shock.
According to the stakeholders, although the economy exited recession in 2016, she is still in a stagflation state, based on very high rates of unemployment, double-digit inflation, and sluggish growth.
Specifically, the immediate past Director-General, West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM), Prof. Akpan Ekpo, predicted a three per cent growth rate in 2019, noting that with everything being equal pre and post elections, the Nigerian economy is expected to grow by one per cent this year.
Ekpo, at a breakfast meeting organised by the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC), themed, “2018 Economic Review: Expectations for 2019,” noted that the current growth rate at two per cent is sluggish and fragile, stressing the need for economic managers to properly implement the ERGP, to ensure that the economy is on a growth trajectory.
In his words, “Growth rate at 3 per cent is not good enough as Nigeria must maintain a double digit growth rate in the next ten years to move Nigerians out of the poverty line.”
He said review of the economy in 2018, and expectations in 2019, suggest that economic development is a struggle; advising that the oil story should not describe the economy, while the quality of governance over-time should ensure a continuous improvement in the standard of living of most Nigerians in 2019 and beyond.
He said there is also an urgent need to prioritise development at sectors that would generate job opportunities, saying the economy needs a lot of proper management going forward in 2019.
”Having looked at all of the economic variables, the Nigerian economy is still primitive. The economy did not do well in 2018, very few people moved out of the poverty line. The two per cent growth rate is positive, but nothing to cheer about,” he added.
He urged the federal government to expedite action on the passage of the 2019 budget, adding that the budget is an economic tool deployed by both local and foreign direct investors, noting that as a result of the forthcoming elections, foreign portfolio investments have declined sharply.
Also speaking, the National President, NACC, Otunba Toyin Akomolafe, quoting the World Bank, said Nigeria’s GDP growth has remained largely unimpressive, and still exhibits the same pattern of the pre-crisis period of 2017.
He stressed that at as at third quarter 2018, the combination of unemployment and underemployment rates have reached an all-time high of 43.3 per cent, with an estimated 49.1 per cent of the country’s population living below the poverty line.
He assured that as a foremost bilateral chamber of commerce in Nigeria, the Chamber would continue to promote the development of trade, commerce, investment and industrial technological relationships between the public and private sectors of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the United States of America.