From Uche Usim, Abuja
The World Bank made a startling revelation that Nigeria’s per capita income (PCI) has not improved in the last 40 years as it remained static since 1981.
World Bank’s Country Director for Nigeria Shubham Chaudhuri stated this on Monday at a panel at the ongoing 27th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES#27) and urged the economy managers to quickly assemble potent strategies to harness the robust potential of the country.
The summit themed “Securing Our Future: The Fierce Urgency of Now” drew economic experts, fiscal and monetary policy stakeholders, academia and more.
In economics, PCI scales the average income earned per person in a country in a specified year. It is calculated by dividing the country’s total income by its total population.
In 1981, according to World Bank data, Nigeria’s PCI was $2,180.2 and $2,097 in 2020, meaning there has been no appreciable change in four decades.
‘Nigeria today has real per capita income that was the same as 40 years — in 1981. This means someone whose growth has been stunted,’ he said.
‘I heard the Minister talking about the medium-term development plan, which has all the right ingredients. It will take time to get (the country) back to its full potential — it can’t happen overnight.
‘But our sense is that Nigeria is at a point in time where some critical decisions need to be made. It’s almost like the immediate treatment to halt further decline.’
He described Nigeria as an individual with the potential to become a star athlete.
According to Chaudhuri, about 3 million Nigerians come of working age yearly, but surveys have shown that they aspire to go abroad.
‘I think the urgency of doing something now is because the time is going in terms of retaining the hope of young Nigerians in the future and potential of Nigeria,’ he said.
Chaudhuri, like other global bodies, advised Nigeria to immediately channel spending on petrol subsidies to infrastructure, education and health care services.
Earlier in her remarks, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed called for a paradigm shift in running the country’s economy through comprehensive and targeted reforms, a reorientation of our national values, and a radical shift in attitudes to taxation and public financial management.
‘This is consistent with the focus of this administration on targeted investment in critical infrastructure and social development. Already, the government is leading key interventions and reforms to achieve these goals. We have prioritised investment in critical soft and hard infrastructure across the country such as roads, rail, schools and hospitals, delivered through the Annual Federal Budgets. The Annual Finance Acts, an important innovation introduced by this Administration, are also key tools for effecting fiscal policy change and incentivising private sector actors. “We also recognise the need for increased domestic resource mobilisation as evidenced by the implementation of the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative (SRGI), an important intervention which is already yielding positive results in stimulating non-oil revenue growth. In addition, we have concluded work on the Medium-Term National Development Plan for 2021-2025 which sets the development agenda for sustainable growth driven by new and emerging economic sectors.
‘However, government cannot drive the required investments on its own and acknowledges the need to continue to incentivise private sector participation in the much-needed economic transformation of our country. The required investments and policy changes must be implemented in a sustainable and inclusive manner, ensuring that the needs of the present do not compromise the prosperity of future generations. Thus, in developing interventions, the wellbeing of present and future citizens of Nigeria must be guaranteed,’ she explained.