Nigeria's Economy Safe Under President Buhari – Sen. Udoma

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The Minister of Budget and Planning, Senator Udo Udoma has assured Nigerians that the nation's economy was safe under President Muhammadu Buhari, stressing that the positive trends recorded in the country’s economic indicators since the launch of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) indicated that the plan was working.

The media adviser to the Minister, James Akpadem quoted him as giving this assurance on Thursday at the presentation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Regional Economic Outlook Report for Sub-Africa, in Indonesia.

The statement explained that actions taken since the launch of the ERGP in early 2017 had helped to build buffers and appropriate measures to safeguard the economy from any external shocks. He listed some of the achievements of the current government to include bringing down inflation from 18.7% in January last year to 11.2% by August this year, saying its aim is to bring inflation down to single digits by the end of the Plan period in 2020.

“The exchange rate market has been stabilised through the introduction of the Investors and Importers foreign exchange window. We have also been able to build up our external reserves from $27 billion in 2016 to $43.9 billion by early this month.

“Our current account, as a ratio of GDP, has moved from a deficit of 3.2% in 2015 to a surplus of 2.8% by end of last year. And this is built on export growth, including significant growth in non-oil exports, that has resulted in the country recording a consistently positive trade balance since the fourth quarter of 2016.

“The ERGP targets both oil and non-oil. With specific reference to the oil sector, it would be recalled that due to disruptions by militant activity, at some point in 2016, oil production was as low as 1 mbpd.

“Through positive engagements with the communities in the Niger Delta, we have improved the environment for oil production. Apart from technical hitches, from time to time, we are now able to produce up to 2 mbpd and take advantage of the more favourable international oil prices. Our target is to produce 2.3 mbpd.

“Our GDP grew from -1.6% in 2016 to 1.5% by the second quarter of this year, with the non-oil sector growing at 2.05% – the highest growth in the sector since the fourth quarter of 2015”, he added.