Recession: Buhari sends emergency recovery bill to NASS •Plans injection of $15bn into economy

IN a bid to get the country out of recession, President Muhammadu Buhari and members of his economic team have resolved to deploy presidential orders and directives in reflating the economy.

Rising from a cabinet retreat on the budget, which held inside the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday last week, all 234 participants consisting of ministers, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, permanent secretaries, heads of government parastatals and other senior government officials also endorsed Emergency Economic Recovery Bill to be forwarded to the National Assembly to deal with those changes requiring legislation.

Outlining government’s plan for getting the country out of recession, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, said government was developing a fiscal stimulus strategy, which involves a plan to generate and inject large amount of funds, principally in foreign currency, estimated at between $10 billion and $15 billion into the economy.

The funds, according to him, would be generated through asset sales, advance payment for license renewals, infrastructure concessioning and use of recovered funds to bridge the funding gap.

In addition, he indicated that government was working hard to resolve disruptions in the Niger Delta by militants.

In a communique of the retreat obtained on Monday, Udoma also stated that beyond the immediate and urgent response to the recession, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had also adopted some other measures to ensure that the economy was weaned out of continuity to depend only on crude oil for its sustenance.

The retreat agreed on some quick wins and priority project and programmes to be pursued in the 2017 budget and diversifying the economy for general prosperity.

The quick wins include immediate implementation of the social intervention like programmes school feeding, N-Power, STEM, CCT; effective communication of government projects, programmes and policies which would go a long way in mobilising support for government to succeed; and payment of local debt, including debt owed states and contractors.

Priority programmes and projects included infrastructure, which has power, rail and public works; agriculture and agro processing; mining and solid minerals; social intervention schemes and public works; human capital development; and population census, to facilitate accurate data for planning.

The retreat also mandated the Ministry of Budget and National Planning to further review and fine-tune the proposal priority areas for incorporation into the 2017 budget.

In the first part of the retreat, which was divided into sessions, four notable economists and development policy experts like Dr Obadiah Mailafia, Mr Bode Augusto, Mr Bismark Rewane and Dr Ayo Teriba made paper presentations to participants.

The four, according to the communique, harped on the need for government to work closely with the private sector operators to bridge the funding gap in the infrastructural development, especially given that government was expected to spend between N3 trillion and N5 trillion annually for infrastructure project.