By Ikenna Uwadileke
Abuja – The World Bank Group on Monday said that Nigeria needed to make concerted efforts to boost productivity with a view to creating more jobs and accelerating economic growth.
Mr Shubham Chaudhuri, Country Director, World Bank Group, Nigeria, spoke at the launch of the bank’s Nigeria Economic Update in Abuja.
The event had the theme “Jumpstarting Inclusive Growth: Unlocking the Productive Potential of Nigeria’s People and Resources.
The Nigerian Economic Update is prepared twice a year (Spring and Fall) to appraise stakeholders interested in economic and social developments, prospects and policies.
Chaudhuri said it was critical for the country to implement a bold reform programme to boost productivity.
According to him, although Nigeria continues its recovery from the 2016 recession, the bank projects that the absence of structural reforms will make growth remain stable, averaging 2.1 per cent during 2020 to 2021.
He said that the country’s growth outlook remained vulnerable to external and internal domestic risks if more transparent and predictable macroeconomic policies were not in place to encourage investments.
Chaudhuri expressed concern that the recession spurred a rise in unemployment and pointed out the need for more states to create enough jobs to keep pace with their growing labour force.
Mr Marco Hernendez, Lead Economist of the bank, expressed worry that 100 million Nigerians live on less than 1.90 dollars per day.
According to Hernendez, with population growth estimated at 2.6 per cent, out spacing economic growth in the context of weak job creation, per capita incomes are falling.
“Under a business-as-usual scenario where Nigeria maintains the current pace of growth and employment levels, by 2030 the number of people living in abject poverty can increase by 30 million,’’ he said.
Hernendez emphasised the need to build reforms to mitigate risks and promote inclusiveness while presenting policy options for increasing economic efficiency to promote growth and job creation in Nigeria.
He further said that robust growth and job creation would require strengthening microeconomic management while increasing fiscal revenues to attenuate the impact of oil sector fluctuations.
The lead economist who also called for investments in human capital and infrastructure commended the government for improved regulation to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start and operate businesses.
He also commended the federal government for ratifying the social protection policy and establishing a state and national social registry of poor and vulnerable households to enhance social protection.
Mr Babatunde Fowler, the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), called for stronger collaboration between the Federal and the states government.
He said that such closer ties would lead to identification and execution of more projects that were critical in boosting the country’s economy.
Fowler also said there was need to utilise land optimally to establish projects and create jobs.
“There is nothing wrong in being a farmer, there is nothing wrong in being a bus driver but we have in our minds that if you don’t have a white collar job you can’t make it,’’ Fowler said.
Also, Gov. Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi harped on the need to mobilise more resources to support productivity in the country.
Bagudu said that Nigerians are hardworking adding that they need policies and adequate funding to support the hard work.
He noted that if that was not done they would get frustrated.