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NIGERIA'S ECONOMIC GROWTH WILL BE SLOW - WAIFEM BOSS

By NBF News
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By CHINEDU IBEABUCHI
Nigerian economy will witness no major economic transformation between now and 2015, as major indices have shown that the economy will grow at a much slower pace, according to an economist and Director- General, West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management, WAIFEM, Professor Akpan Ekpo.

Ekpo, who was delivering a keynote lecture at the Wilson Badejo Foundation, WBF, Fifth Annual Lecture, with the theme: 'Nigeria's Great Resources and the Paradox of Economic Poverty,' in Lagos, said, 'Despite the various efforts put in place by government to check the rising rate of poverty, the rate of unemployment is growing faster than the growth of the economy, especially as the growth witnessed over the years have not contributed to curbing the unemployment situation.'

Continuing, he stated, 'According to government statistics, in the last five years, the economy has experienced an average growth rate of seven per cent.  In the first quarter of 2012, the economy grew by 7.8 per cent. However, the growth is non-employment generating.  It is a jobless growth.

'Furthermore, if the base year for computing GDP is changed as being proposed, then it would be more of a paper growth rate.

'The current annual rate of inflation is 12.5 per cent; it is double digit but on the lower side.  High rate of inflation hurts the poor more as the rich can draw on savings to purchase needed goods and services.

'The official rate of unemployment is 23.9 per cent as at November, 2011.  This represents an increase when compared to about 21 per cent in 2010.  It is even higher among youths and other vulnerable groups.

'Also, disturbing is that rural unemployment is increasing.  The high rates of unemployment increase the number of poor people. It is interesting to note that the rate of unemployment is increasing faster than the growth of the economy - another disturbing trend.  The question to address therefore is: where is the growth coming from?'

Akpan argued that the manufacturing sub-sector contributes about 3.5 per cent to GDP in the last six years, adding that the 2011-2015 Medium-term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) project that by 2015, the manufacturing sector's contribution to GDP would remain at four per cent signalling no meaningful change in the structure of the economy.

Stressing further, he said, 'Today our economy is dependent on oil with economic growth recording only seven per cent. And poverty index is about 70 percent. Furthermore, human inequality is high. Several governments in Nigeria have always claimed to fight poverty. Several programmes costing billions of naira have been designed and sometimes implemented partially to tackle poverty.

'At the end, these poverty programmes only make the poor poorer, and the rich have become richer by looting or stealing the money meant to tackle poverty.  In addition, there are huge NGOs with interest poverty alleviation. Not withstanding all these, no positive results'