Economic recession: NECA President accuses FG of being clueless

Following the official pronouncement by the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, that the Nigerian economy is in recession, the President of Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Mr Larry Ettah, has accused the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration of being clueless and lacking in direction and driving the economy into recession.

Speaking at the association’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Lagos, Ettah, who is also the Managing Director/ CEO of UAC Nigeria Plc, stated that “While there is no doubt that the past administration was profligate in its management of our commonwealth, it is quite evident that the lack of clarity about the economic agenda of the current government and some wrong policy choices have contributed to the current economic stagnation and recession.”

He highlighted economic indicators to justify his position by stating that “2016 has so far not been any better with multiple economic challenges: depleted foreign reserves from $29.9billion in November 2015 to $25.71billion on August 19th, 2016; naira depreciation by 31.7 percent from N197/$ in March 2015 to N330/$ in August 2016; high capital outflow, particularly portfolio investment; upward trend of inflation from 8.5 percent in March 2015 to 15.6 percent in June 2016 and increased interest rates. The economy contracted in the first quarter of 2016 and also in the second quarter as well, implying that the economy is now in recession.”

He described the state of the Nigerian economy under the present government as challenging, unpredictable, unstable and energy sapping.

“These words are, of course, true and descriptive of what our members have experienced in keeping their businesses afloat. As I reflect on the events and situation of our economy in the past one year (under this present government), I am truly short of appropriate words to capture the extremes of hardship and trauma businesses have had to contend with to remain standing. Suffice it to say congratulations to any enterprise whose head is still standing above the inclement weather of our operating environment,” he said.

He reiterated that with a growth rate of 2.79 percent in 2015; the year recorded a dramatic slowdown from the 5-6 percent growth the Nigerian economy has become accustomed to recording. “The triple jeopardy of a standstill in government as a result of the 2015 election; a new government grappling to settle down and the drastic fall in government revenue as a result of fall in the crude oil prices dealt a massive blow to the economy,” he said.

Ettah urged the Federal Government not to use few successful companies to celebrate the successes of government in economic performance.

“I wish to implore the government to look beyond the seeming good performance of a handful “big” businesses in gauging the state of the economy. The mortality rate of micro, small and medium scale businesses is alarming and, if we are going to get a firm grip of the panacea for the high youth unemployment in Nigeria, then we must pay heed to the imperatives for sustainable enterprise,” he concluded.