Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has outlined plans of the Buhari-led government for 2018.
He said this on Saturday at the graduation ceremony of the Senior Executive Course 39 of 2017 of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, NIPSS.
Osinbajo assured all sectors will witness government intervention and support, in order to further consolidate the improving state of the economy.
His speech read in part: “To start with, the Federal Government sees 2018 as a year of consolidation of the economic recovery, and the gains from improved macroeconomic management, and the extensive investments made in agriculture, infrastructure and the business environment. We are diversifying our options in power supply.
”Our programme of energizing industrial clusters has started. That project involves providing power in existing small business clusters. For our first batch, we will be providing independent power in certain markets; the Ariaria Market in Abia State, the Somolu Printing Community in Lagos State, the Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi (Sabon Gari) Market in Kano State. This power is independent power which will guarantee constant supply 24/7. We intend to take batch by batch some of this projects to encourage small businesses.
”Also we have provided in both the 2017 and 2018 budgets, funds for what we have described as the energizing education project. This involves providing independent power in the following universities in the first batch; the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in Bauchi, Bayero University in Kano, Usumanu Danfodiyo University in Sokoto, Federal University of Agriculture in Makurdi, Federal University, Ndufu Alike, and Nnamdi Azikwe University in Anambra, University of Lagos, Obafemi Awolowo University and Teaching Hospital, Federal University of Petroleum in Delta State.
”Our emphasis going forward, will be on job creation, through scaling up of the social intervention programmes, to include artisans, but also through a massive construction effort with regard to homes and revitalization of the manufacturing sector.
”Jobs are central to our purpose for revitalizing the manufacturing sector. The focused attention we have given to promote agriculture will be replicated in the manufacturing sector. We recognise of course that electricity is critical for this sector and this is being continually addressed.
”We already have policies for the automobile and tomato processing sectors, and we will continue to fine-tune other sectoral policies. In addition, we are focused on ensuring the take-off of a Special Economic Zones in six geo-political zones, dedicated to textiles and footwear for exports, and on ensuring adequate, and affordable financing to enhance the operations of manufacturing concerns. We have already provided N80billion in the 2018 budget for this Special Economic Zones.
”Jobs are also the reason why we will be fast-tracking the implementation of the Family Homes Fund. It is an important programme for providing housing in the coming year. Our intention is to use this programme to create a large number of jobs in construction, and as well to promote widespread home ownership by providing affordable housing to be paid for through a sustainable mortgage financing system.
”The coming year, will see even greater movement to fully utilise the oil and gas value chain. The private investments in refineries, petrochemical plants, fertiliser factories will be complemented by more gas projects, especially critical pipeline infrastructure and greater penetration of LPG in the domestic market. The start-off of modular refineries in the Niger Delta is part and parcel of this work programme. Up to 35 communities and their investor groups, have reached the right to invest stage and three of them are already preparing to ship their facilities for installation.
”Our emphasis on supporting micro, small and medium scale enterprises, is largely because the sector is also critical for job creation. We will continue with the MSME clinics which are being followed up with the creation of one-stop shops for Federal Regulatory Agencies across all the States of the Federation. We will by this means reduce some of the costs and the regulatory obstacles that MSMEs face in trying to do their business. The MSME programme now goes hand in hand with the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme which provides micro loans to cooperative societies and artisans.
”Our recent experience has shown that Government revenues are quite low for the size of our economy and inadequate to fully meet related societal demands. Our total tax collection is just 6% of Gross Domestic Product, as compared to an African average of 17%. We are accordingly taking all necessary steps, to increase Government revenues through the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), excise taxes and improved collection of taxes.
”Government will also ensure better management of its resources, through cost efficiencies, automated payroll systems and leveraging of its assets to ensure better returns. The decision to reduce Federal Government holdings in Joint Venture operations, in a case in point. By this means, we will not only be raising revenues to help fund Federal and State budgets, we will in addition also be improving governance in the oil and gas sector.
”In a similar context, as the case of JAMB has shown there is substantial under-remittance to the Federal Government by its parastatals and agencies and we will be putting a stop to this using the results of a forensic audit being undertaken as well as greater scrutiny and oversight by the Economic Management Team.
”The infrastructure projects that I have mentioned will of course continue to be the focus of attention, until they are completed across power, roads, rail, airports and broadband infrastructure. The 25 road projects in all six geopolitical zones to be financed by the recently issued N100 billion Sukuk Bonds, will be closely monitored to ensure that they are delivered in good quality by the specified date.
”Our efforts to improve business conditions will continue apace. We must always bear in mind that the purpose of our efforts on the ease of doing business, is to promote the private sector and provide the right atmosphere for firms to operate profitably in order to grow the economy and provide jobs for the unemployed and those joining the labour market.
”Thus while we continue to bask in the improvements in our ranking, and the citation of Nigeria as one of the 10 best reforming economies in the world, we realize that our task is far from being done and will remain focused on the ERGP objective of being in the top 100 countries in terms of ease of doing business by 2020. Until the average Nigerian has food on his table, has a job and is satisfied with the life that he is living, we are far from preparing any kind of celebration.”