Nigeria May Not Achieve 7 Percent ERGP Target By 2020, Says Udoma

Abuja — Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma has said Nigeria is not likely to achieve the seven per cent target of the Economic and Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) by 2020.

Udoma, who stated this yesterday in Abuja at his end of tenure media briefing, however, believes that the projection would be achieved during President Muhammadu Buhari's second term in office. His words: "What we need to do when something is working is to work harder at implementation and not to start reviewing and wasting time on it.

"An economy that is moving backward is like a car moving backward and it takes a lot of force to stop the car from moving backward. We have to stop the slide and start moving in a positive direction, which we have started."The process takes time to build up momentum, the beginning is bound to be slow, but once you build up momentum you will see the economy moving more rapidly."

Udoma also disclosed that the implementation of the ERGP resulted in the economy exiting recession in the second quarter of 2017 and returning to the path of growth with most economic indices showing positive momentum.

Admitting that the 2.01 per cent growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) was weak, he said starting the year with a 2.01 per cent GDP growth rate was encouraging due to the fact that the first quarter often records the slowest growth in GDP.

"A GDP growth rate of 2.01 per cent is weak because we like Nigeria to be growing at 5 per cent, but the key thing is the direction of movement. I know Nigerians will like us to get to 7 per cent but it takes hard work, sustainability and focus to get there," he said.

Udoma explained that as at March 2019, 1,707,932 loans had been successfully disbursed under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), with 1,374,192 of the loans given under the TraderMoni scheme, while 330,568 loans were for MarketMoni and 1,172 for FarmerMoni.

The minister also argued that to return to a January to December fiscal year, there must be an agreement between the Executive and National Assembly to produce a budget on the basis of significant assumptions.He added that achieving a smoother budget process would require a close working relationship and trust between the two arms of government.

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