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Strengthen CBN disbursement funds to solve its economic crisis, experts urge FG

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The Managing Director, Financial Derivatives Company, Bismarck Rewane, The Partner and Chief Economist, PwC Nigeria, Andrew Nevin, and others have asked Nigeria to pay adequate attention to 10 priority areas, strengthen the disbursement and accountability framework of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) funds among others to accelerate the country’s economic growth.

They made this disclosure known at an Economic Roundtable themed, ‘How to get out of this economic crisis,’ held via zoom on Wednesday.

The Managing Director, Financial Derivatives Company, Bismarck Rewane said that the simple solution for Nigeria’s economic difficulty would be to stop doing dumb things and start doing smart things as running a deficit is not inherently bad.

He explained that the fact that the government is running a fiscal deficit is not a bad thing in itself because it could be a countercyclical move, which is in line with the Keynesian school of thought, meant to stimulate growth in a recessive period.

“Budget is a tool of economic management,” he said, drawing attention to the use of budget deficit in the U.S to stimulate growth evident in their economic recovery and low unemployment figures.

“The question is whether your deficit is giving you the economic outcome or is just a deficit in numbers,” he said.

He added that fiscal policy debate is centred on the revenue generated, which may be good, but more attention should be called to the way the revenue is spent on improving the welfare of Nigerians.

“Emphasis should be on how the government revenue is spent and its impact on the people,“ he said.

“What is the impact of the spending on unemployment, literacy and multidimensional poverty?” he added.

The Partner and Chief Economist, PwC Nigeria, Andrew Nevin pointed that though the nation is rich, its dead assets is a major bane to its economic growth, noting that dead asset refers to  unregistered real property and is considered lost value because the landholder is unable to transfer or leverage the  property to borrow or access capital.

According to the economist, The areas are Unlocking Nigeria’s vast dead assets to stimulate growth, Harnessing the power of the diaspora, Driving export growth through services. the need for growth to be spread across the country, and not just in a few urban centres, Improving on the country’s low investment and gross capital formation, and moving a thriving informal sector to the formal sector.

Others are Improving on the business environment, and ease of doing business, Addressing Nigeria’s big three distortions (exchange rate, power, and subsidies), Shifting focus from the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) lens to sustainable development goals, and prioritising climate change.

Nevin added that finding the political will to act and unlock Nigeria’s dead real estate assets will have a transformative impact on the lives of Nigerians.

The Chief Economist of Coronation Merchant Bank, Chinwe Egwim called attention to the need to strengthen the disbursement and accountability framework of the various CBN Intervention Funds, noting that the interventions are yet to achieve the desired impact.

Her reaction was in response to a recent report by the World Bank which alluded to the fact that various intervention funds instituted by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) were pivotal in helping Nigeria overturn the hard biting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and return to economic growth.

Reacting to the report, Egwim said,” Interventions are essential, I wouldn’t say that should stop but I do share the same view that the impact is not really aligned with the progression of growth.

“I can give an example, agriculture. Before the pandemic, that sector enjoyed a lot of interventions and stock injections, but then when you look at the output numbers released by the NBS, I can’t remember the last time I saw it at 5 per cent YoY.”

She, however, agreed that interventions needed to continue to support the economy and support growth.

On the importance of capital inflow (investments) in driving economic growth, Executive Secretary/CEO Ms Yewande Sadiku explained that though global capital inflow has been under pressure since 2011 in Nigeria, the most populated black nation is not resting on her oars.

According to her, between 2011 and to date, the only year we experienced a hike in capital inflow was 2018.

She said: “Investors are very brave but the capital they carry is coward. Capital goes where it is not threatened and where it is comfortable. The greatest antidote to the cowardice of investors money is confidence.

“Government is doing some work on ease of doing business in Nigeria but the decline has been going on for so long. The movement of capital is subject not only to your competitive advantage Nigeria has but also to comparative advantage.

“The job of looking for investors can’t be left for an agency but should be collective. Investors are concerned about security, corruption, exchange rate, policy instabilities and arbitrary regulatory functions and the government has been building blocks that need to be in place and there needs to be an acknowledgement that it will take a while.”
Infrastructure gap” She said.

Others who lent their voices to the proposition are Chief Economist of Coronation Merchant Bank, Chinwe Egwim, and Executive Secretary/CEO Ms Yewande Sadiku at the Nairametrics.

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