Isaac Anumihe, Abuja
The Federal Government yesterday, said that it has started implementing the Zero Oil Plan (ZOP), as set out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, who disclosed this in Abuja, said in order to achieve the objective government has set up a committee that would be working in close collaboration with state governments to promote the establishment of Domestic Export Warehouses and Aggregation Centres in each of the six geo-political zones of the country.
“The Committee is also promoting Project MINE. The acronym ‘MINE’ stands for Made-in-Nigeria for Export. Under Project MINE, Special Economic Zones will be used as the mechanism for making Nigeria a pre-eminent manufacturing hub in Sub-Saharan Africa and a major exporter of Made-in-Nigeria goods and services regionally and globally” Udoma said.
He explained that the project, which has received the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has secured early commitments from domestic and foreign investors in textiles and garments industry as well as agro-processing sub sector.
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“Government is also reactivating the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) Scheme and the Export Development Fund (EDF) Scheme, with the sum of N13.28 billion provided in the 2018 Budget.”he said, pointing out that the ERGP aims to expand and increase private sector investment.
“We have therefore prioritised improvements in the business climate to make Nigeria an attractive place to conduct business.
“The Presidential Enabling Business Committee (PEBEC), was set up to focus attention on this. These efforts are bearing fruits as recent surveys conducted by the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), indicate that there has been a significant rise in interest in investing in Nigeria.
He said that reports from the NIPC, which regularly tracks new business announcements, indicates that “for the first three quarters of 2018 (i.e. from January to September 2018), a total of $73.08 billion worth of proposed investments were announced for 65 projects in 18 states and the FCT.
The sectoral analysis of the announcements indicates 11 sectors of interest with mining and quarrying accounting for 43 per cent of the total value, construction 25 per cent, manufacturing 23 per cent, electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply, and transportation and storage, each 3 per cent, and the remaining sectors accounting for 2 per cent.
He said though not all announcements become successfully executed projects, the increase in announcements of proposed business projects does signal improved confidence in the economy.
As part of the many initiatives government is introducing to help investors, the Minister said Sector Specific Focus Labs in agriculture and transportation, manufacturing and processing and in power and gas were conducted early this year.
“These are some of the execution priority areas identified by the ERGP,” he added.
The Focus Labs, he explained, involve inviting potential investors to meet with key government officials and regulators with the objective of addressing any bureaucratic issues the investors might face in setting up projects in Nigeria.
“Some of the early successes recorded in this first set of Focus Labs was our development of a National Gold Development Policy and the establishment of a Federal Gold Reserve Scheme in Nigeria. After this first set we are committed to holding more Focus Labs.”he said.
These developments are an indication of significant progress, the Minister said. He particularly emphasised that not only is Nigeria out of recession, the country is beginning to grow again particularly in the non-oil sector.
“The non-oil sector of the economy grew by 2.05 per cent by the second quarter of this year – representing the strongest growth in the sector since the fourth quarter of 2015. The Manufacturing sector, which had experienced consistent quarterly contraction since Q1 2015, except in Q4 2015, has started growing again.
“At 0.68 per cent in the Q2 2018, this growth is still quite low, but it is movement in the right direction. The textile sub-sector improved from 0.2 per cent in Q2 2017 to 2.73 per cent in Q2 2018, while cement which contracted by -4.16 per cent in Q2 2017 by Q2 of this year is now growing at 3.84 per cent. Whilst still very far from our targets these are very positive movements.
“By way of further illustration of the direction of movement, the Purchasing Managers’ Indices (PMI) for manufacturing which had consistently stayed below the 50 points threshold between January 2016 and April 2017, has risen to 56.8 index points in the month of October 2018.
This indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector for the 19th consecutive month. This expansion was driven by improvements in business activities, production and employment across most sectors.