Yar’Adua Inaugurates National Economic Council
Wed, 05 Sep 2007
President Umaru Yar’Adua has inaugurated the National Economic Council (NEC), the first in his administration, and charged the members to produce a plan to help his government achieve its vision 2020 economic policy.
The council is headed by Vice President Goodluck Jonathan while the 36 state governors, Minister of National Planning, Governor of the Central Bank, and Minister of Finance are members.
Section 18 of the 1999 Constitution provides for the NEC to serve as advisory body to the President on the economy.
Yar’Adua told the council before its maiden meeting at the Presidential Villa, that having identified human and physical infrastructure as the two most critical elements in growing the Nigerian economy, focus should now be on job creation, reduction in inflation, improving on the existing interest rate, and a stable currency.
With these attained, an enabling environment will be created for a vibrant Organised Private Sector (OPS) to thrive and assist the government, he said.
“We can only make meaningful progress in our national restoration efforts if we all commit ourselves to these identified challenges in the interest of our people and posterity”, said the President as he warned against political and other differences that could hamper the council’s work.
7-point plan: National Economic Council to draw up roadmap
Written by Elkanah Chawai
Wednesday, 05 September 2007
The National Economic Council (NEC) was inaugurated in Abuja yesterday and was charged with the responsibility of drawing up a roadmap that will actualise the Yar’Adua administration’s seven point agenda.
It was also charged to chart a course of economic regeneration so that Nigeria becomes one of the world’s twenty largest economies by 2020.
The council, chaired by Vice President Goodluck Jonathan and comprising all 36 state governors, also held its first session, charging the states to begin legislative processes for the enactment of the Public Procurement Act and Fiscal Responsibility Act. The Finance Minister, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor and National Planning Minister are also members of the council.
At yesterday’s inaugura-tion at the State House, President Umaru Yar’Adua told council members that it was time to come up with visible results which will impact directly on the lives and living conditions of Nigerians. The NEC is an advisory body with constitutional responsibility to advise the president on the economy as well as national economic policies and programmes in line with the 1999 constitution, he said.
President Yar’Adua also said: “We have to create more jobs; inflation must be reduced; interest rates need to be forced lower; the private sector has to be more actively engaged by government in more productive partnership that will propel the growth of our economy; and naira must continue to maintain a stable exchange rate against the major currencies.”
He urged members not to allow issues such as political affiliation, narrow sectional interests and primordial loyalties to blind them to the obligation of driving growth, development and prosperity in an atmosphere of peace, security and stability.
The Vice President, in his address, said the states should be actively involved in the process of formulating policies and programmes that will give direction to the economy.
The states must cooperate to pursue common economic objectives, he said.
“We must insist on cooperation among one another, so that contiguous states can develop ties that can lead to regional economic programmes. Second tier governments need to share common economies, pursue a unity of purpose, and achieve economies of scale. In the best spirit of federalism, states must look inwards, but strike robustly outwards towards the 2020 vision, and there is no better forum to drive this idea than the National Economic Council,” Jonathan said.
He also said the NEC will encourage measures necessary for coordination of economic programmes of various governments. Challenged by weak energy sector and weak industrial infrastructure, he said the council should be able to make Nigeria’s economy one of the 20 strongest economies by 2020.
“I need to note that the era of paying lip service to the commanding requirements of national economic integration is past. This council must pull itself up by the bootstraps and rise to the challenge of building a new Nigeria that we can all be proud of.”
The council then sat and discussed four major issues, which included poverty and HIV/AIDS; the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); and the adoption of the Public Procurement and Fiscal Responsibility Acts by the various state Houses of Assembly.
Briefing reporters on the outcome of the meeting, CBN governor Professor Chukwuma Soludo, flanked by Governors Segun Oni of Ekiti and Muazu Babangida Aliyu of Niger, said the State Houses of Assembly have up to December this year to adopt the Acts. Soludo said the states were also tasked in setting up effective Debt Management Offices and improve non-oil based revenue. The decisions were based on the presentation made by the Minister of Finance, which urged that fiscal strategies and budgets for 2008, 2009 and 2010 be driven by medium term plans, instead of the usual annual projections.
Soludu said many memos from the Finance Minister were not considered at the meeting, but added that the council will meet on October 4, 2007 to complete deliberations on the memos.