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NBS to unveil rebased GDP figures in December

By The Rainbow
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The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) plans to release new figures for the proposed rebasing of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) by December.

The proposed rebasing of Nigeria's GDP is expected to boost the reported size of its economy by 40 per cent.

In financial terms, the new approach to GDP calculations ¬†would boost the economy from about $250 billion to about $350 billion, which will to take it very close to South Africa’s GDP that is currently estimated to be about $385 billion.

Specifically, the initiative is to change the base year for the country's GDP computation from 1990 to 2008.

The GDP recalculation would enable Nigeria to join the ranks of middle-income countries and put it much closer in size to South Africa, the continent’s most developed economy. It will also make it an even bigger draw for foreign investors seeking a slice of Africa’s fast growth rates.

Bloomberg quoted the Director-General, NBS, Dr. Yemi Kale, to have said the data for the rebased GDP would be published on December 10. Kale confirmed that 2010 would be the new base year. He had said in May that the agency was also considering 2012 as a possible base year after consulting experts from inside and outside government.

The schedule for release of the new GDP data had been changed several times. While the statistics bureau's website still mentions a target of October 24 this year, Kale had said in May that it might not happen until next year.

According to Kale, the true size and composition of the economy hasn't been properly reflected in the annual calculations, which don't capture the activities of companies created since 1990.

The Renaissance Capital (RenCap) had argued the move to rebase the country's GDP would lead to improvement in some ratios, such as the budget deficit to GDP and public debt to GDP.

'An upward revision in Nigeria's GDP could help the minister of finance achieve her objective by cosmetically reducing the budget deficit to GDP ratio. A bigger GDP will give the finance minister the room to step up Nigeria's capital expenditure plan, particularly for infrastructure projects, without compromising the medium-term fiscal consolidation plans.

'Nigeria's relatively low public debt to GDP ratio, which is currently in the high teens, is expected to drop even further following the rebasing, making Nigeria's government one of the least leveraged in the world, especially compared with over leveraged Europe,' Lagos-based financial advisory and investment firm had said in a report.

This move is seen as strategic given the persistent arguments over reports by international organisations on Nigeria's development efforts, particularly the recent one from the African Development Bank (AfDB).

For example, AfDB scored the country's efforts to halving poverty by 2015 as weak, which the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku has faulted on the basis of 'outdated data.'