Economy stable in spite of security challenge, says Okonjo-Iweala

By The Citizen

Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has assured Nigerians and the international community that the fundamentals of the economy remain strong in spite of the security challenges facing the country.

She said: 'The economy recorded a growth of 6.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2013, inflation is down to single digit, fiscal deficit is only 1.8 of GDP, foreign reserves stand at $48 billion and the government is working very hard on many projects that would impact positively on the populace.'

A statement from Paul Nwabuikwu, Special Adviser to the Minister said she made the remark yesterday during an international forum organised by Standard Chartered Bank.

Responding to questions on the implications of the state of emergency declared last week by President Goodluck Jonathan in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa States, the minister explained that the government is taking decisive action to secure communities in the Northeast affected by the activities of Boko Haram.

She explained that the intention of the government is to restore security and order to enable economic activities and normal life resume. The state of emergency, she explained, gives security agents the latitude to flush out insurgents from their bases.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala noted that the Presidency is adopting a multi-dimensional approach which include political dialogue, counter-terrorism tools and economic inclusion to solve the problem.

Government, she said, hope that the return of peace will create a strong foundation to spur economic growth, particularly through agriculture, the mainstay of the region.

Responding to a question on whether the country is expecting a supplementary budget to tackle security challenges, the minister answered in the negative. She noted that a Contingency Vote was already built into the budget to take care of emergencies such as security and the flooding that affected many parts of the country last year.