Minister of National Planning and Budget, Senator Udo Udoma

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, yesterday reconfirmed Federal Government’s plans to sell some of its assets, saying it was necessary to raise immediate cash to cushion the effect of recession.

Udoma, who stated this yesterday in Lagos at the Nigerian Economic Summit Group world press conference, noted that the intention was not to sell all the assets but a little to make up the difference required to the country.

The minister, who emphasised the need for Nigerians to patronise made in Nigeria products, said the Federal Government, unlike in the past, would not waste the available opportunities in the current economic crisis. He said: “We have been in this crisis in the past, but the moment we are out of it we relax.

But now, we don’t want to waste this crisis. It is another opportunity to diversify. In the next two years, we want to stop the importation of petroleum products. “We are also looking at the area of food. That is why agriculture is so important to this government.

By 2018, we are going to be self-sufficient in rice while in 2019, we are going to be sufficient in wheat.” Speaking on the forthcoming summit in October, he said that the Federal Government takes seriously the outcome of the summit, stressing that it had already started addressing some of the recommendations of last year’s edition in the areas of competitiveness, improving the business environment as well as job creation and inclusive growth.

He said: “We have gone even further than the recommendations of the summit in setting aside N500 billion in the 2016 Budget for social investment programmes in order to address the needs of the most vulnerable in our country. This amount is unprecedented in the history of Nigeria.

“The summit last year which was “agenda-setting” in nature, attracted both local and foreign participants, as well a number of internationally reputed resource persons. “It also catalysed efforts by government to commit to addressing Nigeria’s competitiveness following discussions from the plenary session where the former Prime Minister of Georgia, Nika Gilauri, shared insights about the tough choices his administration had to make in order to move from the fourth quintile in terms of global competitiveness to the first quintile within a period of 10 years.”

He added that this year’s, which is the 22nd edition, was designed to encourage more production and consumption of Made in Nigeria goods and services. “We believe that with more patronage Nigerian producers will be encouraged to improve the quality of their products. As the quality of our goods and services improve, international demand for them will increase.

“There is no doubt that the fastest route to grow our economy and to create jobs for our teeming population is by pursuing export led growth. Export led growth will add to our foreign reserves and stabilize the naira,” he noted.

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