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Recession: Economists make case for creative thinking


Pension funds, micro-finance listed as possible funding and growth triggers


By Vicky Bricks


An economist, Professor Olu Ajaikaye has made the case for fresh, creative and out-of-the-box thinking if the nation is to succeed with the recently launched Economic Recovery and and Growth Plan, ERGP.

He stated this at the second annual Bullion Lecture organised by the Centre for Financial Journalism, CFJ which was held at the Civic Centre in Victoria Island, Lagos on Tuesday.
He cautioned the Buhari administration on an over-dependence on international credit in funding the plan saying that if not well managed, Nigeria could recede to the crippling days of the international debt overhang which we mercifully exited during the Obasanjo second term.
In the course of the discussions, it emerged that the micro-finance sector and the N6 trillion pension funds were veritable growth and financing triggers to be considered.

Drawing on the summations of the lecture and a goodwill message by the Ambassador of Rwanda to Nigeria, His Excellency, Stanislas Kamanzi, the economist Biodun Adedipe reasoned that some of the possible way of mobilising resources to fund the ERGP  and jumpstart the economy once again was to look in the area of exploiting the pension fund and then growing the micro-finance sector.

‘If we are able to look at what Rwanda has done with micro-finance and then tinker with it for our circumstance, then perhaps we can begin to make a headway in the sector here in Nigeria,’ Adedipe stated.

Adedipe also pointed out that it also made sense that if we continued to look to the private sector as the engine of growth in the economy, it is most important then to properly attract and motivate the sector in this wise.

 ‘What are the incentives that will make the private sector respond to the lofty objectives in the Economic Recovery Growth Plan? he queried.
Drawing on the example of the Lekki Toll Road, he observed that it just did not sit too pretty for the private sector players that had participated in that transaction to be bought out just when the project was just about getting into its blooming season.

Contributing, the Chairman of the occasion and Chair of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG, Mr Bukar Kyari endorsed the call for creative thinking saying that even if it required the setting up and floating bonds using the format of Infrastructure Investment Trusts, and in the manner of the already existing Real Estate Investment Trusts, REITs, that are presently listed in the capital market, he would be up for it.

In her own submission,the journalist and former Commissioner for Information in Rivers State, Mrs Ibim Seminitari said it was most critical that policy makers go on to walk their own talk when it comes to the making and implementation of plans.

‘Talking about plans, we have had a lot of them. Not many remember that we once used to have the rolling plans. And even more recently we have had the Niger-Delta Masterplan which was done a few years ago. We brought in Germans, everyone and it was done. It was so beautiful. However it looks like when things are too beautiful, we do not bother any more to implement them,’ Semenitari, who was until recently, the Acting Managing Director of the NDDC stated.

She alsoharped on the need for a justice system that will promote and protect investments.


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