Economic experts have highlighted problematic areas the newly-constituted economic advisory team of the president should focus on to address the challenges confronting the country.
The experts spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja, in reaction to the recently-constituted Economic Advisory Council (EAC) by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari had, on Monday, announced the constitution of an eight-member EAC, with Prof. Adedoyin Salami as Chairman. The council, which replaces the current Economic Management Team (EMT), led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, will be reporting directly to the President.
Dr Patricia Auta, an economic analyst, said there was need for the council to look at how manufacturing, financial services, maritime and aviation sectors could transform the economy, create millions of jobs and pull millions of Nigerians out of poverty.
“The banks in Nigeria have not performed optimally, particularly in the areas of delivering on cash to the real sector and consumers. They seem to be engaging more in short term lending, including treasury bills.
“The result is that the economy is bleeding. A banking policy that delivers resources to the economy is needed. Also, there is the need to streamline the CBN. The bank appears overburdened, especially with its concentration on development finance. “There may be need to set up another body to handle development finance activities, so that CBN can concentrate on its core mandate of monetary policy administration and banking supervision,” she said.
Auta also called for the support of polices that promote the consumption of made-in-Nigeria goods which, she said, was good for the sustainability of local industries in the country.
Another expert, Mr Tunde Folorunso, urged the EAC members to review the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) to improve implementation. He said that the ERGP would have been able to get Nigeria out of recession, but it had so far failed to spur rapid growth and economic development. “Government’s policies on tax appear to be poorly thought-out. There’s the need to get government to reconsider increasing VAT from 5 percent to 7.5 percent as it will have an adverse effect on the economy.
“Also, the recent clampdown by the FIRS on alleged tax defaulters’ bank accounts is unlawful and must be checked. Members of the EAC have their work cut out for them. They cannot massage the government’s ego. They must point out the flaws in the current economic plan and give honest advice to the president,” he said.
Also, another economist, Dr Tom Adedoyin, said that the country could not grow without first tackling the problem of insufficient power supply and poor transportation. He hoped that the EAC would come up with ideas that would help the government address those problems, which, he said, had riddled the country for decades.