President Muhammadu Buhari has appreciated the outstanding support and guidance provided by the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC), which he described as a tutorial, urging the members to assist the country in exiting from the terrible state of development.
Speaking during a virtual meeting with members of the PEAC in Abuja yesterday, the President in a statement by his media aide, Garba Shehu said: “We are a country characterised by large population of poor people, serious infrastructure deficit, lack of housing and a vulnerable economy now haunted by the COVID-19 pandemic and collapse of the oil sector and its effect on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”
The PEAC, while making a presentation to President Buhari had commended the administration for implementing several of its recommendations, even as it presented the government with a number of tough choices that will put the country’s economy on a higher growth path.
The chairman of PEAC, Prof. Doyin Salami, who led the presentation expressed delight with the ongoing review of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the 2020 budget in view of the disruptions caused by COVID-19; the deregulation of the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS); approval for the implementation of Oronsaye Report on the need to rationalise and restructure federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as the adjustment of the exchange rate of the Naira.
He however, noted that more needed to be done to increase efficiency, coordination and accountability on the part of MDAs.
The PEAC welcomed the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) produced by the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) headed by vice-president Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and adopted by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) but warned that in the implementation of the N2.3 trillion spending plan, there could arise a number of problems which if unattended, could hamper smooth implementation.
The committee advised that, “The ESP should be implemented using existing institutional and administrative structures; attention be paid to sources of funding to avoid inflation; ensuring that priorities, targets and time limits be set for all projects to make for their completion within the 12-month life-span of the ESP and where this is not achieved, such projects should be rolled into the new Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP II)”.
The PEAC recommended that the ESP must promote export-oriented production strategies; ensure the use of local resources; curtail post-harvest losses in agriculture now put at between 40-60 per cent and above all and the need to make the economy attractive to non-debt private sector-funded investment in order to cut the rising cost of debt services.
Other recommendations included the need to embark on mass housing schemes and create jobs through a Public Private Partnership arrangement; urgent need to move away from multiple exchange rates to a unified currency exchange rate and continue with the ease of doing business strategy in the country.
President Buhari accepted the immediate need to activate the proposal by the PEAC on Public Policy Coordinating office under the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, as he gave further assurances that “we will continue to listen to you and do our best.”
Other members of the PEAC are Dr Mohammed Sagagi , vice-chairman; Prof. Chukwuma Soludo; Prof. Ode Ojowu: Dr Shehu Yahaya; Dr Iyabo Masha; Mr Bismarck Rewane and Dr Mohammed Salisu.
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