By Omoh Gabriel
The 14th Nigeria Economic summit has outlined the various huddles on the way of Nigeria’s bid to becoming one of the twenty largest economies in the world by 2020 stating that weakness in governance and institutional capacity may hinder the realisation of the vision. It said ‚Äúour institutions are ranked 106 of 134 by the WEF’s current Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), our civil service in its current state lacks the capacity to anchor the race to 2020″
According to the conclusion of the summit, Nigerians will align with the vision if they see government’s commitment to the vision. The report which was submitted to the President who was represented at the closing ceremony of the submit by the Minister of National Planning Commission Senator Sanusi Dangash said “Our people will align with your vision for 2020 when they see commitment, action and some positive results”
The summit report said “The key questions are: are we convinced, at all levels of society, that we can succeed? Are we therefore willing to really put on our track shoes and get in the race? Are we ready to stretch beyond our comfort zone and pay the price for success as great athletes do? We believe we can win this race if we confront our realities with courage and embrace our possibilities with imaginative ideas and action”.
Listing the huddles that mitigate against the achievement of vision 2020 the report said “Our Realities represent hurdles that must be tackled well so we don’t trip on them”. At the moment it said “We are losing competitiveness, our ranking in the IFC’s “Doing Business 2009″ declined from 114th country last year to 118th of 181 countries this year, our business environment does not rank amongst Africa’s top 10, The World Economic Forum (WEF) ranks Nigeria 94 of 134 in its latest Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), the global economic environment is changing, turmoil in global financial markets is deepening into recession across the world, our recent gains in economic growth and macroeconomic stability may be threatened by sustained fall in oil prices, there is a greater threat of ‘protectionism’ as countries look inward to protect against recession, Infrastructure remains inadequate in critical sectors -power, transportation, the framework for incentives neither adequately nor efficiently mobilises resources, doing business with government remains costly”.
The summit conclusion urged the government to restore confidence in Nigerians by working on the mindset of the people which at the moment is at best that of cynicism, apathy, despondency on any thing that comes from government. It said that except the government at all levels ‘Walk-the-Talk, reinstate the process of urgent reforms in the 100 per cent enrolment in basic education by 2012, the vision will be a mirage.
It said “Significant public and private sector investment in vocational and technical education” is required , “to raise the level of productivity in the economy, encourage public and private investments in youth empowerment programmes”. The report stated that for vision 2020 to be realised there is the urgent need for “Speedy and effective implementation of the recommendations of the Niger-Delta Technical Committee, empower the Ministry of the Niger Delta to bring visible change in the lives of the people”
Participants at the summit further said “Our national ambition to be among the top twenty economies by 2020 can be realised, It requires that we raise the size of our national economy from about $170bn to $900bn by 2020 in other words, achieve a 5-fold increase in economic size”. It stated ‚ÄúWhile ‘small’ countries such as Angola have raised their economic size almost 10 fold in the past decade; China, a large country also increased the size of its economy almost 4 fold in the last decade urging that Nigeria must invest and plan if it wants to win this race”
It stated however that the nation’s macroeconomic environment remains stable despite recent increases in inflation, “income continues to grow faster than our population, exchange rates remain stable on the back of significant stock of foreign exchange reserves, financial markets, which have grown significantly, appear fundamentally sound despite regulatory challenges, corporate investment has also risen sharply.
The report stating what is envisaged for the Nigerian economy by the year 2020 said “The size of our economy by 2020 will be at least US$900bn, its mechanisms of regulation, resource mobilisation and allocation will be efficient and share the proceeds of growth relatively equitably, infrastructure will be adequate to sustain and continue to grow economic activity, our corporations will be characterised by governance structures which comply with international standards, all sectors of the economy will be growing sustainably and generating work for our people, infant mortality will be less than one-in-ten of children born, all our children will be enrolled in schools affording them an opportunity to gain the skills which make them productive, more than three-quarters of all Nigerians resident within our borders will live above the poverty line.
‚ÄúThis requires a lot of energy, commitment and determination. It’s an endurance race, our Ministers and Advisers must be people who can deliver, empower them! hold them accountable, transform the Civil Service into a workforce that is: lean and effective, competent and honest, competitively remunerated, continuous updating/upgrading of skill sets and competencies”
‚ÄúAppropriate pricing mechanism‚Äù the report said must be adopted to attract private sector investment in public utilities, strengthen regulatory and institutional framework, free up funds for social services (health and education) and poverty alleviation programmes, accelerate on-going reforms in agriculture and land ownership to attract private investment in commercial agriculture, to facilitate access to credit ,create an infrastructure fund, through the use of FGN Bond, review the unbundling model currently being adopted for the power sector:
It said that government must adopt a ring-fencing model for commercially viable States/areas, adopt appropriate pricing mechanism to attract private sector investment in the power sector and implement the multi-year tariff order for electricity, free up downstream pricing to motivate investment as well as encourage human development skills that support the growth of the oil & gas industry; encourage investment in domestic gas supply and utilisation and ensure security of lives and property, through the transformation of the Nigerian police by retraining, retooling and paying them realistic compensation.