By Musa Adamu
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma, has stressed the need for robust population management policies.
Udoma, who was speaking at an interactive session at the ongoing Parliamentary Open Week, organised by the National Assembly in Abuja on Monday, said population management was one of the 60 key programmes set out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) as a strategic initiative to ensure that the gains of government economic policies were felt by the citizens.
He noted that unless something urgent was done about the country’s rate of population growth, it would be difficult for the people to feel the full impact of the GDP growth.
He disclosed that his Ministry was working in collaboration with the Ministry of Health to carry out a comprehensive review of the current population policy and that it would require the support of the National Assembly for effective implementation of the revised policy.
He said the review would also entail benchmarking initiatives undertaken by other countries with high levels of population.
He pointed out that with an estimated population of 198 million people and a projected growth rate 3.2% per annum, Nigeria’s population would be more than 289 million by 2050 and the 4th largest in the world.
He said: “Therefore it is imperative that we introduce measures to bring down the growth rate to less than 2%.”
He noted that following the implementation of reform initiatives in the ERGP, the business environment had been reinvigorated and that was improving steadily as investor confidence had returned with capital inflows in 2017 doubling that of 2016, as well as that of first quarter of 2018 growing by 500% in comparison with same quarter in 2017.
“Exports grew by 59.5% between 2016 and 2017 while trade balance turned from a deficit of N253.33 billion in the first quarter of 2016 to positive levels beginning from the fourth quarter of the year. “Full year trade balance stood at N4,035.5 billion as against a deficit of N290.1 billion in full year 2016.”
He further pointed out that while the Exchange Rate gap had been narrowing progressively, GDP had been growing steadily and that positive results were being recorded in all key sectors, except Services which, he said was usually the last to recover from a period of recession.
“Inflation has declined from 18.55% in December 2016 to 11.61% in May 2018, which is below the ERGP target of 12.42 for 2018.’
He said the Focus Labs held between the first and second quarters of 2018 was aimed at helping to drive private sector investment into the economy.
“The first phase of the project which ended in April 2018 identified over USD 22.5 billion worth of private sector investment that could be unlocked, with USD10.9 billion categorized as ‘most ready’ to go; including several other quick wins.”
He said cumulative investments from the first phase of the labs could reach up to USD39.2 billion by 2025 and Ministerial Delivery Units had been set up in the Ministries to work closely with his Ministry in the implementation of the labs outcome.
He also pointed to other ongoing initiatives in the Agriculture, Mining, Health, Transport, and Power sectors with ongoing work to ensure that the power sector was viable and can deliver to meet the country’s demand.
“This is in addition to the setting up of Special Economic Zones across the six geo-political zones of the country, the Infrastructure Fund and other investment promotion initiatives.”