Buhari’s macro-economic targets not working – report

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Macro-economic targets set out by the Federal Government in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan have been underachieved, a report released by the Centre for Democracy and Development has said.

The report reviewed the main economic agenda of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration since 2015, and examined the effectiveness of policies and programmes that had been implemented.

Entitled, ‘An Assessment of the Effectiveness of Government Policies and Programmes on Economic Growth and Development, 2016-2019’, it is an overview of economic strategies and goals as outlined in the ERGP, annual budgets, Medium-Term Economic Framework, Fiscal Strategy Papers and monetary policy objectives of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

It, however, noted some significant progress in the government’s monetary and financial policies, engendering stability in the sector.

According to the report’s key findings, the Federal Government’s budgets during the period also underachieved.

“Most of the macro-economic targets in the plan and the budgets have been underachieved.

“The greatest challenge that has inhibited the achievement of the goals is the revenue constraint.

“To address this revenue constraint, the government focused on foreign borrowing, recovery of looted public resources, improving tax administration and increasing Value Added Tax,” part of the report said.

Although the report said the ERGP had “adequately focused on the right vision and strategic objectives”, it observed that “developments on the ground have overtaken mainly its specific targets, concerning growth, revenue, output and employment.”

The report recommended that the task of monitoring of implementation of the plan should be vested in a unit in the office of the Vice-President.

It urged that the proposed unit should liaise with all relevant public and private institutions.

The report, however, noted that ‘more significant progress’ had been achieved in the area of monetary and financial stability.

“In the last one year, price levels have come down, partly due to the sustained tight monetary policies, even though they are still higher than the target levels.

“External reserves have been reasonably built up, again partly due to policy initiatives undertaken,” it stated.

On the growth rates, the report observed the results had been lower than the stated targets, despite turning positive.

It said, “This is partly due to slow or uneven growth of critical sectors such as crude oil, agriculture, manufacturing and power.

“Revenue shortfalls appear to pose the most significant challenge inhibiting the delivery of a strong enough stimulus and capital investment to engender rapid growth.”

The report called for renewed efforts to expand the tax base through more vigorous enforcement and the incorporation of the Small and Medium Enterprises and the informal sector into the tax net.

It also suggested the exploration of new areas of generating revenue, such as commercialisation, part-divestment, securitisation and joint ventures, combined with efforts to attract Diaspora investments.

It noted that unemployment had been increasing even though it posited that youth and graduate employment recently diminished slightly.

The report suggested a considerable up-scaling of the various employment generation schemes for better impact.

According to the report, despite reforms carried out to improve Nigeria’s position in the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business Report, 2017’ to 145 out of 169, the country slipped one place in 2018, “not because any reforms have been reversed, but because other countries are improving faster,” it stated.

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