Thursday, July 7, 2011

........How to develop Nigeria, by Okonjo-Iweala, Nnaji, others

7 July 2011

Senate clears Aganga, Ando as ministers

THE  Senate resumed screening of ministerial nominees yesterday with  candidates  listing ways of  realising the Vision 20:2020 agenda of the Federal Government.

Among those screened were former Special Adviser to the President on Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji  (Enugu State) and  former Minister of Finance and Managing Director of the World Bank, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

As part of his answers, Nnaji said the country would need about $10 billion yearly for about 10 years to properly and efficiently reposition the power sector.

On her part, former Minister of Finance and Managing Director of the World Bank, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, cautioned that politics should be divorced from the economy. “To grow the country and economy, you need every sector and ministry to be important and do the needed work. I believe that every single sector is important in the country and it would be left for the President and senators to decide but economically, every sector matters.            

“The minister of petroleum should do the needful to make the sector transparent if people feel it is not. I don’t know why exploration of oil should assume political dimension, every country blessed with such resources tries to see how to exploit it maximally. We should encourage increased exploration in all parts of the country without political sentiments”, she said.

She explained that she didn’t run away from the government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo but resigned when she felt she was not working and contributing the way she should.

She spoke further on the economy: “We should try to live within our means. Current expenditure is almost 74 per cent of the budget, so, no place for capital project. The main problem with the economy is job creation. We should give priority to sectors that are job creating.

“Right now, we are one of the few countries that are oil-producing, we are losing reserves. We should rather be increasing our reserves. If you want to revalue the naira, this might not be the time to think about it. We should wait until things are more stable, we are growing our economy and creating jobs.

“Refineries, why are they not working? I wished I knew better. Petroleum engineers should help us identify but I think machines are obsolete. We need proper frame-work for refining our oil, there is no reason why we should not.”

She said the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should be allowed to explain the recently introduced cash withdrawal limit. “Cash withdrawal. It would be wise to tell Sanusi to understand exactly what he has in mind when he made the policies. All I can say is that whatever the case may be, other countries are trying to use electronic means of cashing money but we should also be a little careful because people may decide to keep money at home. I like the objective of making us a cashless economy but we should do that carefully”, she said.

The former minister also spoke on industrialisation. “To achieve the type we want, we should tackle infrastructural need. We should demand result of all the money spent on privatisation. We should support all the areas we have comparative advantage.

“If we can run a budget that is not deficit, we can do it. We have done it before. How can we invest in capital if we are spending all on re-current expenditure?

“We can manage the N18,000 minimum wage. Are we going to be a country that is not able to produce enough capital to invest in the future?” ...

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