By Suzzy Tolofari
Nigeria’s foreign reserves have reduced from $26.51 billion from the second quarter of 2016 to $24.74 billion in September, Budget and National Planning Udoma Udo Udoma, says.
At the 57th annual conference of Nigeria Economic Society (NES) in Abuja on Tuesday, he said Nigeria had revenue and foreign currency concentration problems.
At the conference with the theme, “The developmental state and diversification of the Nigerian economy’’, he said Nigeria was left with the option of diversification.
The minister because of the destruction of four strategic pipeline terminals, Nigeria had been unable to achieve its 2016 Budget production target of 2.2 million barrels a day.
Udoma said that as at August, the country was barely able to produce 1.1 million barrels.
“Last week production level rose up to 1.7 million barrels, still a far cry from the country’s target of 2.2 million barrel.
“We are taking a number of immediate measures to raise revenues to strategically spend our way out of recession.
He said that the government was taking measures to address the disruption in Niger Delta to restore production.
“We are fast-tracking our efforts to raise foreign currency loans that we have projected in the 2016 budget, from AfDB, World Bank, Chinese Exim Bank as well as Euro Bond issue.
“We are happy to note that the president of AfDB has announced that we should expect, among other facilities, a budget support of $1 billion dollars next month,’’ Udoma said.
He said the economic management team had been working to assemble a stimulus package to be raised from concessioning advance payment for license renewals, use of recovered funds and some asset sales.
Udoma said the package was being worked out and was yet to be finalised, adding that to achieve this speedily, “ we are working to fast track procedures through presidential directives and legislation”.
“I want to emphasise that notwithstanding the current economic challenges we face, we are not discouraged at all and this is a crisis we must not waste.
“We should see this crisis as an opportunity for us as a country to make those major structural changes needed to change this economy for good.
“We should use this crisis to implement the reforms needed to unlock the economic potentials of the non-oil and high employment sectors.”
He said such would achieve a sustainable inclusive growth that would enable the majority of Nigerians to become more productive.
Udoma said that government was working on a programme with the private sector to launch made-in-Nigeria campaign.
He said that the intent of the programme was to encourage more production and consumption of made in Nigeria goods and services.
“We believe that with more patronage, Nigerian producers will be encouraged to improve the quality of their products.
“We should encourage the branding of Nigerian products by self-regulatory industry bodies such as wine makers have in France. Made-in-Nigeria should become a badge of quality.
“As the quality of our goods and service improve, both local and international demand for them will increase.
Udoma said high local demand would give Nigerian producers the platform to explore the export market.