Emefiele says GDP growth still fragile, charges bank CEOs reset of economy

THE Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has said that though the Nigerian economy has exited recession, growth is still fragile.

He, therefore, urged bank Chief Executive Officers and other stakeholders to work together to reset the Nigerian economy to achieve massive growth.

Emefiele gave the advice at a one-day special summit on the economy, organised by the Vanguard Newspaper in collaboration with CBN and Chief Executives of banks in Lagos, recently.

The summit has as its theme, ‘How to overcome the Pitfalls of Recession: Bankers perspective on an Enduring National Growth Path.’

“Nigeria has grown as far as five per cent in the past and I think we have an opportunity now to reset our economy and begin to see massive growth.

“It is, therefore, imperative that we do all we can in 2021 to ensure that we build on the positive momentum and strengthen our efforts at stimulating growth.

“Let me repeat, with the discovery and deployment of vaccines, 2021 will be a year of massive global recovery and Nigeria must not be left out.

“Thank God key players in the banking industry are here, whether it be by force, they will have to participate in this journey,” Emefiele said.

According to him, in order to drive and sustain this recovery, there is a need to engage in sustaining the accommodative fiscal and monetary policy measures aimed at improving access to finance to households and businesses.

The apex bank governor said there was also a need to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 cases by ensuring that a significant number of the population was properly vaccinated.

He said Information and Communications Technology (ICT) was another sector that had emerged as a significant source of resilience in mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

Emefiele encouraged banks and other financial institutions to leverage ICT in improving penetration of financial services to households and SMES, while supporting productivity across key sectors of the country.

He added that foreign exchange inflows into the country must also be improved so as to increase non-oil export earnings.

According to Emefiele, with the decline in revenues due to federal and state government, alternative ways of funding infrastructure are critical to generating sustained growth of the economy.

He said: “As we are all aware, a well-built infrastructure system can have a multiplier effect on growth by enabling the expansion of business activities in the country.

“That is why I am delighted that Mr President has continued to give all the necessary approvals and support to establish the Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria Limited.

“InfraCorp will be co-owned by the CBN, the African Finance Corporation and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority and would become fully operational by the second quarter of 2021.

“This vehicle would enable the use of private and public capital to support infrastructure investment that will have a multiplier effect on growth across critical sectors,” he said.

Whilst warning against the temptation to be carried away by the exit from recession, he called on banks’ CEOs to join government efforts to make maximum use of the opportunity offered by the  COVID-19 recession to reset the nation’s economy for sustainable growth.

Also speaking, Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, hinted that moving beyond the pandemic induced crisis, the first step in achieving sustained growth is to focus on productivity and value addition in every sector of the economy.

“For instance, in agriculture, our focus must be on the processing of raw produce. Adding values means more jobs and the value chains make more money.

“Manufacturing is also key. We can be the factory for the continent. We’ve been discussing the prospects of zero taxes for machinery generally because machines mean production.

“In fact, the thinking of government generally is to make Nigeria a value-adding economy, especially in our areas of comparative advantage.

“And talking about comparative advantage, Nigeria must leverage its trading talents. We have some of the greatest traders and entrepreneurs in the world, such that we can become a global trading hub,” he stated.

The Vice President also called for improved support especially from the private sector in the operationalization of the proposed N15 trillion Infrastructure Company (InfraCo).

The Chairman of Vanguard Newspapers, Mr Sam Amuka, said the deficit areas that needed urgent attention in the economy of Nigeria were legion.

“Apart from addressing the infrastructure deficits like roads, transportation, health agriculture etc, which is put at $3 trillion, we also need to stimulate employment, increase in capacity of manufacturers, encourage industries and stimulate growth in all sectors,” he said.

Amuka was represented by the Managing Director of Vanguard, Mr Gbenga Adefaye.

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