To prevent the economy from total collapse, Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) have warned the Federal Government to urgently deal with the issues of oil theft and fuel subsidy removal via policy response that will bring about the desired change.
They argued that if the government does not resolve these issues before the next administration takes over, an economic crisis that would bedevil the country would not be easily curtailed.
Speaking yesterday, on ‘Monetary and Fiscal Policy Challenges: Survival Options for Businesses,’ during a NECA CEO Discuss, organised by the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Managing Director of BusinessDay, Dr. Ogho Okiti, said with Nigeria losing about $2 billion to oil theft monthly, there was an urgent need to close the country to deal with it fully.
He said with the uncertain economic and financial environment Nigeria is faced with today, it was important and critical that businesses, individuals and the government align to deal with the current existential threats.
He lamented that it was foolishness on the part of the government not to even try and increase pump fuel price from N165 to N200 or N250 per litre, knowing fully well that just a N10 or N30 increase will give the government almost N1 trillion.
“Rather, we continue to borrow and borrow. We must close the country down to deal with it. If we don’t deal with it, I don’t know what will happen in the coming months. It is not just by consuming N8 trillion just like that. Moreso, we are not just consuming but borrowing to consume,” he said.
Noting that economies grow by incentives, he said at the moment, Nigeria is not incentivised enough to produce but incentivising to consume. For Nigeria to move forward, he said: “we must remove all those incentives that raise consumption and begin to actually engage in production. If we align with such incentives, people will change their behaviour. Once the government deals with these, the economy will change.”
Okiti, while advocating the right economic policies, said it is until when Nigeria’s growth rate peaks significantly at nine to 10 per cent, that is when it could deal with income growth and poverty reduction.
He said with the current growth rate of 3.4 per cent, Nigerians should not rejoice, because the figure was still from a very low base, considering the extremely macroeconomic instability the country is battling with.
“The growth rate trajectory, when you look at it from a quarter-to-quarter basis, is not so great. They are actually flat,” he said. Also, Fiscal Policy Partner and Africa Tax Leader, PwC, Nigeria, Taiwo Oyedele, said Nigeria’s economy is facing significant headwinds and not enough tailwinds.
Giving some key challenges in the monetary and fiscal space, he said Nigeria’s problems should be addressed through policies and not throwing money at problems.
On how businesses could thrive despite the numerous challenges bedevilling the country, Oyedele, highlighted some sustainability options, like having the right knowledge, seeking professional advice, having a long term perspective and advocacy as a way forward.
President of NECA, Taiwo Adeniyi, who lamented how some government agencies slow down private sector operations through policies, said the organised private sector will continue to deepen their engagements with government for businesses’ survival.