Stakeholders Fault FG Over Poor Economic Performance

Stakeholders Fault FG Over Poor Economic Performance
Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed

Stakeholders in the manufacturing sector have faulted the Federal Government over the country’s poor economic performance.

This development came amid the recession Nigeria just plunged into.

With the economic downturn, stakeholders in the manufacturing sector, including those under the auspices of Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria’s Export Group, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), have in separate in interviews blamed the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.

They unanimously agued that should land border not be closed as it has been, the economy would be functioning well.

According to the stakeholders, the closure of land borders was not a smart move, as it will definitely have a negatively impact on the economy, especially when the country suffering from the recession.

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Ede Dafionone, The President of MAN’s Export Group, said that the uncertainties shrouding the prolonged border closure influenced investment decisions of manufacturers.

He said: “It is actually difficult to have an exact measurement of its impact because there are some companies that have reported that it has helped their businesses because  fake and cheap imports were stopped and there are some exporters who have complained that the border closure has affected their businesses drastically.

“What is very clear is that the sudden prolonged and unanticipated closure of the border is bad for business because of the business community cannot make projections at all for production for export. That uncertainty is clearly bad for long term investments. In that sense, it is definitely bad for the economy.”

He however advised the governmenton the need to earn goodwill by re-opening the borders.

ACCI Director, Adetokunbo Kayode maintained that the decision made by the government to close the borders without talking with the private sector players was very bad.

He said: “The border closure had multiplier base. One is that the decision was taken without consultation, which we think is wrong decision. Government was actually about to review it before the pandemic came and it had to lock up.

“You see, there is no perfect decision or policy or government. So when you are wrong just accept, because it is like being in a hole, in such a situation you don’t have to continue digging but to find a way to get out.”

similarly, Muda Yusuf, LCCI Director, said that both losers and beneficiaries arose from the closure of the border.

He said: “Poultry and rice farmers have reported an improvement in sales arising from the border closure, while investors engaged in cross-border trade in the sub-region lamented on the closure. Traders, manufacturers, freight forwarders and transporters, who operate across the land borders, were negatively affected.

Without mincing words, Bongi Adi, a senior lecturer at the Lagos Business School, said he was yet to see the economic reason behind the closure of the border.

Adi said: “What we have seen is that the government opened that borders for some firms in Nigeria which means it is not based on economic gains. It was opened to serve some sort of political, self-serving, and parochial interests. This is simply because the government wanted to give access to their people or create some kind of preferential treatment.”

Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, asserted that the committee on border closure set up by the President, Major would submit its report soon.

It can be recalled that on August 20, 2019, the government closed land borders to put an end to smuggling in the country and boost local production.

The closure also required that neighbouring countries check smuggling from their own end.

To this effect,The President set up a ministerial committee consisting of Zainab Ahmed, Rauf Aregbesola, Geoffrey J Onyeama, as well as heads of immigration and customs to assess the decision.

It came as a surprise that after more than a year, the committee was yet to submit its report to the President.

Now that their attention has been drawn, ahmed maintained that  the presidential committee set up on the matter had completed its job and would soon submit its report.

She said, “Mr President has set up a committee that I chair, alongside the minister of foreign affairs and other ministers including interior and agencies such  customs, immigration and other security services to review and advise him on the issue of border closure.

“The committee has just completed its work and we will be submitting our report.

“I have signed my copy; I gave everybody to sign between today (Wednesday) and tomorrow (Thursday) so that we submit the report to Mr President.”

However, the minister did not disclose when the report would be submitted and how soon the land borders will be reopened.

Ahmed also  disclosed that the Federal Government  had no plan to withdraw the 2021 Appropriation Bill from the National Assembly because of recession, as proposed by some groups and individuals. Rather, the government would be using the Economic Sustainability Plan(ESP) to revive the economy.

While addressing the current recession situation in the country, the minister explained that the ESP was designed  for that course.

Her words: “You will recall that the ESP was designed to be a 12 months plan, to act as a bridge between the ERGP and its successor plan. But also, it was designed specifically to help us quickly exit recession, which we had projected was going to happen.

“So, the ESP implementation is really on course; it’s focused and also the implementation of the 2020 budget is really on course and is very focused.

“We have been able to release a large volume of capital funding into ministries, departments and agencies, enabling a lot of public work going on simultaneously all over the country.”

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