Economist wants FG to tackle manufacturing, rail, other challenges

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An Economist, Mr. Chris Nemedia, says the Federal Government can achieve higher growth rate in 2018 if it pursues its policies on manufacturing, mining, rail network, among others.

Nemedia, a former Director, Economic Research, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), gave the advice on Tuesday in Lagos. He said the new 2.6 per cent growth rate projection by the United Kingdom rating agency, Fitch, was achievable should the government review downward the foreign exchange rates in investment and export windows.

According to him, the lower rates will enable manufactures acquire more tools for production, while the challenges associated with export will be cushioned.

“Although the apex bank has made so much efforts in adequately managing the challenges of foreign exchange (forex), more reduction is needed, especially the lending rate to allow cheaper funds for businesses,” he said.

He said the National Assembly, as a matter of urgency, should pass the remaining aspect of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) so as to allow for new investments in the oil and gas sector.

“There should be that political will to sustain investment in infrastructure to drive growth that will position the economy in its rightful place among emerging economies.

“The modern rail network across country should be completed because of its importance to the economy. Besides, it is one of the cheapest means of transport.

“The government should accelerate the handing over of the airports to private sector to upscale the facilities to international standards and drive growth, ‘’ he said.

Fitch said a revival of economic growth by the sustained implementation of coherent macroeconomic policies could lead to a positive rating for Nigeria, adding that the country was not expected to experience another economic recession in 2018.

According to Fitch, the recovery will be driven mainly by increased FX (foreign exchange) availability to the non-oil economy and fiscal stimulus.

It said the higher oil revenue and the various funding initiatives had raised the government’s ability to execute capital spending plans.

Fitch, however, noted that the growth forecast was subject to downside risks, as the foreign exchange market “remains far from being fully transparent and domestic liquidity has also become a constraint.”

The United Kingdom rating agency projection is a bit higher than the 2.1 per cent growth projected by the International Monitory Fund (IMF) and World Bank’s 1 per cent for 2018.