By Mark Itsibor
Economic experts have said Nigeria’s new Minister of Finance Mrs Zainab Ahmed should as a matter of necessity, make financing of the nation’s 2018 budget a topmost one in her list of duty, and ensure right deployment of available resources to the appropriate segments. Mrs Ahmed sits in a strategic position of the coordinator of the economy.
The call is for Mrs Ahmed to focus on rejuvenating the economy by engaging the right machineries to refocus the economy on growth trajectory. Their call in coming days after the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) raised concern of an impeding danger of recession lurking at the corner, which they say must be avoided.
In an exclusive interview with our correspondent, associate professor in the University of Michigan, USA, Omolade Adunbi and his counterpart in Nasarawa State University Uche Uwaleke expressed concern that except the warning signs of negative economic growth are taken seriously and the fiscal authorities ensure quick financing of the 2018 budget, the economy may soon go into abyss.
The primary duty of the Finance Minister is to ensure that appropriate sources of funds are available for financing the Budget and that these funds are deployed in ways that promote economic growth and development.
To this end, Professor says “I expect her (Ahmed) to continue from where Kemi Adeosun stopped by driving the initiatives already in place especially in the area of ramping up tax revenue through VAIDS and reducing the Debt service burden though rebalancing the debt stock in favour of cheaper external loans.”
He said Mrs Ahmed should also be concerned with deepening the public sector financial reforms including the elimination of payroll fraud as well as strengthening the efficiency unit of the Ministry and getting the buy-in of subnational governments in implementing reforms.
“The Finance Minister is central to the implementation of the ERGP and so i expect her to perform well given her experience in the Ministry of Budget and National Planning,” says the professor of capital market.
In his remarks, Adunbi who noted that the Nigerian economy is still in shambles, draws attention to the fact that the critical sector of the economy really needs help. “I will expect the new minister to begin to work on rejuvenating the economy by taking all necessary measures to revamp it.”
The purchasing power of Nigerians are abysmally low. That is why many say the government would need to put in place monetary and fiscal policies that would stimulate the economy and increase the purchasing power of Nigerians.
“One of the ways in which this can be done is by investing infrastructure that creates jobs and not contracts for politicians. The Ministry of Finance can begin the process of setting up an infrastructure bank that can be used to finance large scale infrastructural development in the country,” Adunbi who is also the Associate Chair for African Studies, DAAS said. He added that the Finance Minister should also focus on shoring up Nigeria’s internally generated revenue in ways that move the country away from a mono-economy. “If there is a huge investment in infrastructure, millions of jobs will be created and that will result in increased tax revenue for the government. ” he said.
Like her predecessor, Ahmed’s professional accounting background is believed to have put her in a good stead to effectively oversee the Office of the Accountant General. So, i see her as a round peg in a round hole.