MINISTER PRESENTS BUHARI’S ACHIEVEMENTS, SAYS I’VE NO HAND IN HATE SPEECH BILL DECEMBER 30, YEAR-ENDING PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, IN LAGOS ON MONDAY, 30 DEC. 2019
Good afternoon gentlemen. Merry Christmas and best wishes for a great 2020 for all of you.
We have called this press conference to enable us present the major achievements of the Buhari Administration for the outgoing year We believe it is important to do this for the record, especially against the background of the continuing efforts by the political opposition to obfuscate the steady progress being made by the administration in all sectors, even in the face of dwindling resources. The achievements we are about to highlight are by no means exhaustive, but they headline the progress made by the administration in the year under review.
THE ECONOMY: The economy continues to witness a strong performance, building on the steady recovery seen since the last recession.
OVERALL GROWTH: In 2019, the Nigerian economy grew at an average rate of 2.2% over the first three quarters, compared to 1.7% over the same period in 2018.
OIL AND NON-OIL SECTORS: Both the oil and non-oil sectors performed considerably better in 2019 than in 2018. The oil sector grew at an average of 4% over the three quarters, compared to 2.4% in 2018, while the non-oil sector grew by 2%, compared to 1.7% in 2018.
OIL PRODUCTION: The average daily oil production level rose to its highest in the last 3 years, reaching 2 million barrels per day (mbpd) in 2019, compared to 1.8 mbpd in 2016, and 1.9 mbpd in both 2017 and 2018.
MAJOR GROWTH SECTORS: In particular, in the third quarter of 2019, the major growth drivers were: Information and communications, agriculture, mining & quarrying, transportation & storage as well as manufacturing, all of which have seen considerable focus by government. In the third quarter of 2019, a total of 34 economic activities witnessed positive expansion, same as in 2018.
INFLATION RATE: The trends indicate that overall macroeconomic stability is being achieved, with inflation rate steadily trending downwards.
HEADLINE INFLATION: Year-on-year headline inflation rate declined steadily from 15.1% in January 2018 to 11.9% in November 2019.
CORE INFLATION: Year-on-year core inflation rate slowed from 12.1% to 9% between January last year and November this year.
FOOD INFLATION: Year-on-year food inflation rate decreased from 18.9% in January 2018 to 14.5% in November 2019.
FOREIGN TRADE PERFORMANCE: Strong performance in the external sector suggests increasing diversification of exports and export revenue.
IMPORTS: The value of imports in 2019, as at the third quarter, stood at 11.6 trillion naira, compared to 9.6 trillion naira as at third quarter of 2018. This represented an annual growth rate of 21% between 2018 and 2019. Other than refined petroleum products, major imports have been machinery and vehicles.
EXPORTS: The value of exports grew by 2.5% between 2018 and 2019 as at the third quarter, rising from 14 trillion Naira to 14.4 trillion Naira. This resulted in a stronger overall performance and an increase in the value of total trade by 10% between 2018 and 2019.
KEY EXPORTS OF NOTE: While the value of crude oil exports decreased by 3.78%, non crude oil exports rose by over 30% in value between 2018 and 2019. Non-oil exports also doubled from about 1 trillion Naira to 2 trillion Naira over this period.
FISCAL PERFORMANCE : The 2019 budget performance shows that while revenue shortfalls occurred in the first half of the year, capital expenditure was prioritized, leading to higher expenditure performance.
GOVERNMENT REVENUE: As at half year 2019, actual aggregate revenue stood at 2 trillion naira, or 58% of pro-rated target. This comprised: Oil revenue of N900 billion (49%performance); Company Income Tax (CIT) of N349 billion (86%performance); Value-Added Tax (VAT) of N81 billion (71%performance); and Customs Collections of N184 billion (100.47%performance).
GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURE: Government expenditure: As at half year 2019, out of the total appropriation of 8.9 trillion Naira for 2019, about 3.4 trillion Naira had been spent, representing 76% performance for that period. Capital spending has been prioritized in favour of critical ongoing infrastructural projects in the power, roads, rail and agriculture sectors.
NIGERIA’S PUBLIC DEBT STOCK: Recently, there have been concerns in certain circles about the country’s growing debt, both domestic and external. In the process, there have been some misrepresentations and scare mongering. We therefore believe it is important to put things in the right perspective, so our
Citizens will be well informed: The public debt stock is actually a cumulative figure of borrowings by successive governments over many years. It is therefore not appropriate to attribute the public debt stock to one administration.
Nigeria’s total public debt stock in 2015 was $63.80 billion, comprising $10.31 billion of external debt and $53.49 billion domestic debt. By June 2019, the total debt stock was $83.883 billion, made up of $27.163 billion of external debt and $56.720 billion domestic debt. It is therefore not correct to say that Nigeria’s external debt alone is $81.274 billion. There is yet no cause for alarm. This is because Nigeria has a debt ceiling of 25% in the total public debt stock to Gross Domestic Product (Debt/GDP), which it has operated within. The ratio for Dec. 31 2018 and June 30 2019 were 19.09% and 18.99% respectively.
The debt service to revenue ratio has however been higher than desirable, hence the push by the government to diversify the economy and increase oil and non-oil revenues significantly. The government is also widening the tax base to capture more tax-paying citizens. In the face of massive infrastructural decay, no responsible government will sit by and do nothing. This Administration’s borrowing, therefore, is aimed at revamping our infrastructure, including roads, bridges, railways, waterways and power, to help unleash the potential of the nation’s economy. The loans for the educational sector will contribute to the development of our human capital while the loans for the agricultural sector will help the move to diversify the economy.
MONETARY SECTOR: Capital importation comprises mainly foreign direct investment, portfolio investment and other investment flowing into the country. As at the third quarter of 2019, total capital importation had reached nearly 20 billion US dollars, which was 34% higher than the 15 billion US dollars recorded for the first three quarters of 2018.
While the inflow of foreign direct investment declined over the period by 39% from 1 billion US dollars to 700 million US dollars, portfolio investment and other investments both rose significantly by 39% and
Major sectors: Apart from banking and shares, some of the major sectors that witnessed high volume of capital inflows in 2019 were telecommunications, production and services. Major states: Nearly all of the total capital importation as at Q3 2019 flowed to Lagos and Abuja, as is typical.
NEW BUDGET CYCLE: The Executive, in collaboration with the National Assembly, succeeded in introducing the 12-month (January to December) budget cycle for the first time since 1999. This is a major development, considering the damage that delayed passage of budgets has done to the economy over the years. With the new cycle, there will be a more rapid infrastructural development, more job creation, etc
THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION: The Administration’s fight against corruption is progressing on all fronts, including institutional reforms, loot recovery and prosecution of alleged corrupt persons. As you are aware, this is one of the cardinal programmes of the Administration, with the others being the revamping of the economy (which I have just dwelt on extensively) and tackling insecurity (which I will touch on in the course of this press conference)
The Administration took a major step forward in the fight against corruption when it launched the Financial Transparency Policy and Portal, also known as Open Government. The Transparency Policy mandates the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) to publish a Daily Treasury Statement, which will provide information about what comes into the national treasury and what goes out every day. Under the policy, the Accountant General of the Federation and all Accounting Officers must publish Daily Payments Reports. With these reports, the Treasury will publish payments of at least 10 million Naira while all MDAS must publish payments above 5 million Naira made out of all public funds in their care. The information to be published must include the Ministry, Department and Agency (MDA) responsible, the beneficiary, the purpose and amount of each payment. Accounting Officers are responsible for providing answers to any questions from the public relating to transactions completed by entities under their charge.
The AGF was also mandated to publish monthly Fiscal Accounts detailing the fiscal performance of the Federation, including receipts from all the collection agencies and payments out of the Federation Account. This must be done within 14 days after the end of the month. The AGF and all Accounting Officers of MDAs must publish Quarterly Financial Statements for the government as a whole and for individual MDAS respectively.
President Muhammadu Buhari said the reason for implementing the policy is to cement government’s commitment to improving governance and supplementing the recently-launched Whistle-blower Policy and equipping the general population with the tools they need to report financial wrongdoing. This policy is unprecedented and will go a long way in enhancing transparency in governance and curtailing public sector corruption (The portal can be accessed through: https:opentreasury.gov.ng)