Buhari Approves National Economic Conference On Jobs, Dwindling Oil Revenue, Forex Scarcity, Diversification, Others

Source: thewillnigeria.com

SAN FRANCISCO, February 25, (THEWILL) – President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the convocation of a major national economic conference on the nation's economy that will rally the entire nation together in a determined effort to confront the current economic challenges of the country, Presidency sources familiar with the development said Friday.

The conference will hold in March, the sources said, with the President in attendance.

THEWILL gathered that the idea of such an economic conference was first discussed last month at the 65th National Economic Council meeting, NEC, which is a constitutional advisory council to the President, presided over by the Vice President.

At the January 28 meeting, members of NEC, including all state governors and the CBN Governor, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and some ministers among other top FG officials, in their deliberations called for a major conference where the current economic situation of the country can be thoroughly discussed by all the states and the federal government.

With the approval of the idea by the President, sources said the views of private sector and non-state actors would also be engaged at the conference as well as key stakeholders.

The NEC retreat, as is being called by the federal government and the states, became an imperative according to sources close to federal and state governments, amid dwindling oil prices with a direct and significant impact on the money now available for federal allocation and sharing between the FG, states and local government councils.

Another concern of the FG and the states necessitating the economic conference is the drop in the nation's foreign reserves to around $30 billion which has forced the CBN to adopt tough forex measures to preserve the reserves and devalue the naira.

A government source involved in the planning of the conference billed tentatively for March 10-11 said “it is interesting that a respectable Nigerian recently raised the idea of a national economic conference earlier this month. The same idea that had been decided by members of NEC at their January meeting. It shows there is indeed a wide consensus for the idea.”

THEWILL had in a Thursday editorial urged the President to convene a national economic conference to articulate his administration’s economic blueprint and encourage a robust debate amongst stakeholders.

Although government is not calling the conference an emergency one, it is clear that both federal and state governments agree on the need to discuss frankly and develop innovative ways to take the country out of the economic challenges of the day.

The source explained that while the FG is clear on what direction it intends to drive the country economically, there is the need to rally the entire nation, including the need to call on both governments and the people to tighten their belts and prepared to make sacrifices.

The President, it is believed, has already set the tone for frugality in spending by cutting off routine security votes among other cost-cutting measures. Besides, the idea of a Zero-Based Budgeting and Treasury Single Account, TSA are said to be part of the attempt by the federal government to tighten up public revenues and finance.