The Senior Economic Adviser of the Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative and the initiator of Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) project, Oby Ezekwesili, has strongly kicked against the plan by the Federal Government to put on sale the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG).
The former Education Minister in a statement issued on Monday said the sale of national assets will not do the nation’s ailing economy any good.
According to her, “I am opposed to the sale of any productive assets like the NLNG because there seems to be no clear economic vision and rigorous analytics to serve as the anchor for such a major policy thrust.
“We need well deliberated policies from our government, including the plans for revitalisation of the programme of privatisation being run by BPE to properly situate public debate of economic structural change agenda.
“After all, even in our country, there is now proof that the economy can relatively respond to deliberate, well thought and rigorous analysis of context and sound policy options in resolving growth and development problems.”
But for the refineries, she said that the government can proceed urgently through the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to sell them off.
According to her, “they are access pit of corruption in the petroleum sector”, stressing that their sale would amount to fiscal savings and should therefore be supported by all.
Exekwesili, however, regretted that at the inception of this administration, on May 29, 2015, when the economy showed signs of strait, the government did not act fast to prevent the present economic situation.
“The parlous state of the Nigerian economy on May 29, 2015 should therefore have instructed an incisive and urgent macroeconomic stabilisation programme to realign price levels in the economy.
“If a menu of sound monetary and fiscal policies that the economy needed on May 29, 2015 had been provided, it would have sent the right signal to players that there was no cause for alarm.
“Had the government made quick and necessary adjustments that corresponded close enough to the level of impact that a 40 per cent sharp drop in government oil revenue necessitated, the story would most likely be less negative today.”
She further noted that “With inflation- nay, stagflation- now at high double digits of 18 per cent , with the decline of foreign reserve from $37.3 billion at end of 2014 to $25billion in September 2016, with an “administrative-floating ” exchange rate regime that still creates enormous opportunities for corruption and rent seeking arbitrage, with a high interest rate that poses a stress for the financial sector because of deteriorating bank asset quality as well as for limited access to credit by the real sector, with a continuously declining aggregate demand, with a shrinking gross domestic product, with 2016 budget deficit level of $11billion that still has unclear sources of financing, what more do we need before citizens stepped up a demand for the government to retrace its steps from its string of unsound economic policies?”
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