By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Abuja – Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged the private sector to lead the charge for Nigeria’s economic growth and development as the Federal Government consolidates efforts designed to ward off a deep recession.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement, said the vice president spoke at a virtual edition of the Presidential Policy Dialogue of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Friday.
The vice president said that opportunities abound across different sectors in the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).
The vice president said the ESP, which was being implemented by the Federal Government, was driven by the desire to adapt to the challenges and make required changes in order to come out stronger than before.
“I take this opportunity to encourage the private sector to be proactive in leading the charge against recession and poverty in our country.
“The Federal Government is not under any illusion that it can do this on its own.
“The opportunities that now exist in the short term in agriculture, infrastructural development, housing construction, in renewable energy, digital technology development, mining, financial inclusion, healthcare and pharmaceutical manufacturing, call for the private sector to take the bull by the horns and make them a reality.
“The priority of the Federal Government in response to the economic challenges caused by COVID-19 is to ward off a deep recession by an admixture of stimulus measures to support local businesses, retain and create jobs and ameliorate the circumstances of the most vulnerable.”
Osinbajo said that though the stimulus package was just about 1.5 per cent of GDP, it was the best the government could do given existing realities in the economy.
According to him, the government developed the ESP with a stimulus package of N2.3trillion to give fillip to the economy across various sectors.
“The size of this stimulus which is just about 1.5 per cent of national income is not as large as we would have liked it to be but it was the best we could do given existing fiscal and monetary constraints.
“ Based on the assumption of the price of crude averaging out at $30 per barrel throughout the year, we anticipate an economic growth of about -0.59 per cent in 2020.
“You would already be familiar with details of the ESP; in essence, it is intended to boost production, prevent business collapse, and provide liquidity.
“ It will also promote the use of labour-intensive methods and direct labour interventions in key areas like agriculture, light manufacturing, housing construction and facility maintenance while increasing infrastructural investment in roads, bridges, solar power, and communications technologies.
“ It is intended to do all this while extending protection to the poor and other vulnerable groups in our society.
“These opportunities are the building blocks that will enable our medium-term goals to be achieved and make our long-term goals achievable,” he said.
On the Ease of Doing Business reforms of the Federal Government, the vice president maintained that the commitment of the Federal Government to providing an enabling environment for business to thrive remained strong.
Earlier, the LCCI President, Mrs Toki Mabogunje, commended the Federal Government’s “spirited effort” regarding its managing of the Nigerian economy.
She added that members of the chamber and private sector players were willing to collaborate with the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.