Why sale of national assets must wait —Abaribe

Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe said on Monday that the planned sale of national assets must wait while government infuses a multiplicity of policies to tackle the current economic recession.

The Senator, who spoke on a Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily on Monday said that there are genuine fears among the class of Nigerians opposed to the sale of government assets.

According to him, the Nigerian experience has been that the foreign  reserves had been used to fund items that don’t contribute to the real sector, adding that selling government’s assets to boost forex inflow would only lead to more problems.

The Senator said: “Let’s put is in context. Why do we need to sell the  assets? The ostensible reason is that we are short of foreign inflows and therefore we have deficit and we cannot fund manufacturers who use those forex to import needed raw materials.

“But that has not been our experience. Our experience has been that whenever you go and look at the usage of forex you will see that it is tilted more to importation of finished goods not really for manufacturers and so forth. It’s more of importation of finished goods, payment of school feeds abroad and all manners of invisible transfers. And it is those invisible transfers, which form a bulk of what we need. And so the fear is assuming you sell everything or you sell part of something it and it comes in and it goes out in this same invisible transfers without affecting the real sector or the manufacturing sector and all that, where would you be? And so that is why you found that there is a divided opinion in the senate among those you all contributed to say there are several ways in which you can use to reflate or get an economy going.

“You ar1e going to use all manners of policies and bring all of them together. But I think if you listen to Ben Bruce that is where the problem is for the economy today: lack of confidence; that is just it.

First you must have to fix that. Once there is no confidence in an economy, it doesn’t matter what you do.

According to the Senator, the plan by the House of Representatives to invite President Muhammadu Buhari to address a joint session of the National Assembly appears a step in the right direction because it will help engineer the confidence needed to boost the economy.

He said the government got things initially wrong when it condemned everything and everybody adding that when the President appeared in the National Assembly to lay out his plans, the government would be going back on previous condemnations to rebuild confidence.