By Anayo Ezugwu
AS the new Economic Advisory Council, EAC, appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari settles down for work, some economic and financial experts have tasked the council to fix Nigeria’s economy. They urged the council to design a workable model that can address the economic challenges confronting the country.
Ephraim Audu, a political economist, said the council has a major role of identifying loopholes and must develop the model that was workable in a country like Nigeria. He expressed optimism that members of the council would bring in brilliance and skills crucial in formulating sound economic policies.
“I acknowledge that the new council has strong membership. The President made a very relevant move that is a welcome idea. When you go through the calibre of people, in fact that list is full of technocrats. It is an excellent move if he had done that in the first time I believe that Nigerians would not have had such kind of experience.
“The prices of food and other stuffs are skyrocketing; the margin of inflation is relatively high, unemployment rate, declaration of Nigeria as poverty capital in the world, the deficit and all that. The Economic Advisory Council is more of research tool and from their wealth of experience; they will be expected to generate a critical data that will be used in developing the country’s economic model.
“How can you run an economy as huge as Nigeria without setting up an economic advisory council? That is very wrong, but now we are very happy because to whom much is given much is expected. So we strongly believe that from the feedback, model and policies we should be able to have some certain changes,” he said.
On his part, Bisi Ogunjobi, former vice president, African Development Bank, AfDB, challenged the council to ensure a balance between the nation’s foreign loans and project implementation. Ogunjobi, who gave the challenge at the closing ceremony of the 60th Annual Conference of the Nigerian Economic Society, NES, in Abuja, stressed the need to address the administrative and technical capacity of civil servants in terms of project implementation at all levels of government.
He said the newly constituted council and members of the Nigerian Economic Society must take the lead in the quest to fill the yearning gap as governments at both the federal and state levels require alternative policy options for effective delivery on their governance mandate for the benefit of the common man. “At this critical time in the political and economic history of our country, the advice and contributions of the Nigerian Economic Society to proffering solutions to the myriad of challenges facing the country cannot be underestimated.
“In this connection, one cannot but lament the near absence of Economic Think Tank in Nigeria today either in our universities or the private sector. As you all know, think tanks play a fundamental role in shaping policy agendas. They do so by mobilising expertise and by formulating alternative policy choices, solidly based on the analysis of evidence, that offer a chance of better outcomes if adopted,” he said.
While, David Ibidapo, an economic and financial analyst, urged the council to guide the president in taking right economic decisions that will yield the desired results for the country. He said constituting the council was a good initiative and that the members were experts in economic matters.
He, however, said what was needed was for the council members to use their expertise to spur the country’s economic growth. “In the current precarious state of the economy, we need the right direction and maybe they (EAC) will be able to let the government know that increasing Value Added Tax, VAT, is not the solution to its revenue challenges.
“What the government is currently facing is not only revenue challenge, but also bad expenditure administration. The issue that should be tackled is how to improve tax collection and reduce debt burdens. We also need to break out of the stranglehold of using majority of our revenues to service debt and on recurrent expenditure,” he said.
The mandate of the council, which has Doyin Salami as chairman is to advise Buhari on fiscal analysis, economic growth and a range of internal and global economic issues working with the relevant cabinet members and heads of monetary and fiscal agencies.
Other members are: Mohammed Sagagi (Vice-Chairman); and Mohammed Salisu (Secretary); Prof. Ode Ojowu; Shehu Yahaya; Iyabo Masha; Prof. Chukwuma Soludo; and Bismark Rewane.
– Sept. 20, 2019 @ 17:07 GMT |