President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said the government had restored stability to the foreign exchange market.
“We have restored stability in foreign exchange market and have recorded improvements in our foreign reserves which have grown from 24 billion US dollars in September 2016 to 42 billion US dollars by mid-February 2018 and now 46 billion US dollars.
“This has been achieved partially because of the recovery of oil prices on the international market.”
The President spoke during the launch of the Focus Labs for the Administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) in Abuja.
He added that his administration had made remarkable strides in creating a conducive business environment for investors, earning the World Bank’s ranking as one of the Top 10 most improved economies in 2017.
“This has encouraged both local and foreign investments in the last few months,” Buhari added.
The ERGP is a medium-term plan, 2017-2020, launched by the President in April 2017.
ERGP sets out the direction of government policy for the economy to put it on the path of a strong, diversified, inclusive and sustainable growth.
According to Buhari, the focus labs are part of the strategies being put in place to ensure implementation of the ERGP.
He also pointed out that focus labs had been successfully used in other countries to boost their economies.
The President said: “Many will recall that almost a year ago, I made a promise that this Administration will be committed to its full implementation.
“The Labs we are flagging off today constitute one of the many strategies this Administration is taking to ensure that the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan is effectively implemented.”
The President listed the key goals in the ERGP to include achieving sustainable, diversified and inclusive growth, becoming self-sufficient in basic commodities to curtail our food imports, diversifying economic base from crude oil dependence, empowering local businesses to create thousands of jobs and, improving the general wellbeing of the people.
“In the past ten months, we have achieved several noteworthy milestones. As you are aware, economic growth returned in second quarter of 2017 due to a clear follow-through of some of the economic initiatives we set out to implement. Since then, we have consolidated on the recovery path reaching a Real GDP growth of 1.92% by the fourth quarter of 2017.
Significant progress, he said, has also been made in the Agricultural sector with the expansion of the Anchor Borrower’s programme to more beneficiaries to boost local production.
“We plan to build upon the success of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative to double the 500,000 metric tons of fertilizer delivered to States, agro-dealers and farmers in 2017, by achieving production output of 1 million metric tons in 2018.
“Today, our local food production, particularly rice, has witnessed a remarkable growth and has saved the nation millions of dollars of foreign exchange.
“However, we are not relenting on our efforts until these improvements in economic indices translate to visible improvements in the lives of our citizens.”
Minister of Budget and National Planning Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, said the Government had so far screened 240 projects for the ERGP focus laboratories.
He said the government’s target was to mobilise at least 25 billion dollars or its Naira equivalent in private investments through the labs.
“Many have asked whether we are not being too ambitious in targeting 25 billion dollars. My answer is that we have no choice.
“We actually need multiples of 25 billion dollars, or its equivalent in Naira of new investments to create enough jobs to address the high unemployment rate in the country.
“So, we will not stop after the first set of labs. After this first set of labs, we will hold more labs and more labs.
“We shall keep on addressing all the constraints to investments until we achieve the goals we have set for ourselves,” he said.
According to him, the implementation of the initiative will further drive quick delivery of some of the outcomes of ERGP and contribute to accelerating the growth momentum of the country.
He said: “The expected deliverables are the identification of projects followed by detailed implementation plans for each project with identified budgets and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
“The process has become imperative because government is fully committed to the achievement of the primary objective of the ERGP, which is restoring the strength of the economy.
“We cannot rest until we achieve the ERGP’s vision of a new Nigeria.
“We cannot rest until we see a Nigeria that is transformed from a consuming nation to a producing nation, from an import dependent nation to an export oriented nation.
“A Nigeria from a nation that survives on one single commodity to a nation that runs on multiple engines of growth,” he said.
Udoma said that the government had invited potential and existing local and foreign investors, who may be interested in investing in any of the three focus areas to attend the closed-door sessions.
“The three sectors are: Agriculture and Transportation, Manufacturing and Processing, and Power and Gas.”