Economic Advisory Council expresses concern over slow economy growth rate

• As Buhari pledges to be bound by Council advice

The new National Economic Advisory Council (EAC) has expressed concern over the slow growth rate of the nation’s economy as well as the lack of synergy among government agencies.

The Presidency revealed this after President Muhammadu Buhari had received ”an important briefing” by the Professor Doyin Salami-led eight-member council at the presidential villa, Abuja on Thursday.

Buhari has given “a firm commitment” to abide by the advice of the National Economic Advisory Council on economy-related matters.

The president, who received “an important briefing” by the Professor Doyin Salami-led eight-member council at the presidential villa, Abuja on Thursday, gave the first directive from their recommendations that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, address immediately, the observed lapses in coordination between ministries and all agencies of government.

A statement issued by Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity), Garba Shehu, said the president listened to the report of macroeconomic importance and their views and recommendations.

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According to the statement, President Buhari said on the issue of coordination, that “the lack of synergy between ministries, departments and agencies would no longer be accepted. We are working for the country, not for personal interests. We have the same objective of service to the people and we will resolve this.”

Reviewing the work of the Council since its inauguration to replace the Economic Management Team (EMT), President Buhari said:

“I am highly pleased based on what I have read in your Executive Summary with the painstaking thoroughness of your preliminary report. I have noted the salient points of your report and these will be incorporated in government economic policies.”

Speaking about the challenges facing the economy and the tasks that rest on the shoulders of the members, the President noted that “the economy is the most delicate and sensitive of all aspects of national life. A little change in the matrix can lead to major disruptions in the national economy.

“For example, international changes in oil prices, bad harvests, conflicts in strategic global locations, a major epidemic or pandemic like the current Coronavirus, tariff changes in major world economies, to mention only a few examples that readily come to mind, can significantly affect our plans.”

President Buhari, who accepted that the EAC should now brief him more frequently, at least once every six weeks, instead of once every quarter, thanked the members for their patriotism and commitment in accepting the challenging responsibilities conferred on them.

“I cannot” he concluded, “thank you enough for your patriotism.”

Earlier in the submission of their report, Prof Salami, supported by interventions by Council members, responded to questions by the President and his team in which they outlined a number of challenging opportunities facing the economy, and proferred solutions to most of them.

The statement said in addition to the issue of synergy which the President addressed at the meeting, the Council raised concerns that the rate of the growth of the economy is slower than the rate the country’s population is growing; the need to strengthen national statistical agencies; reform procurement processes; improve education; and the need for job planning in training offered by academic institutions.

It informed that the Council also brought to the government their views on borrowing, macroeconomic stability and the need to provide a friendly climate for foreign investment.

“We need an environment that will attract investment. People will come only when they feel confident and when they come, their exit will not be challenging,” said Prof Salami.

According to the statement, the council resolved to focus on legacy projects by the administration before 2023.

Apart from Prof. Salami, the Chairman, the Council is made up of Dr Mohammed Sagagi, Vice-Chairman and Prof. Ode Ojowu as members.

Other members are Dr Shehu Yahaya, Dr Iyabo Masha, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, Dr Bismack Rewane and Dr Mohammed Adaya Salisu.

The two ministers in the Ministry of Finance also serve as co-opted members.

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