…Canvass policy directions to lift the economy
Public Affairs experts and economists have warned the incoming government about policy loopholes that can derail the administration. They identified critical areas that have presently put Nigeria in bad shape which should be of major concern to the Bola Tinubu Administration.
These pit holes include: Risk-unconscious over-dependence on hydrocarbons – oil accounted for 90.5% of merchandise trade in 2022; Poor policy coordination – Expansionary fiscal operations, driven by massive borrowings vis-à-vis contractionary monetary policy; Fiscal inefficiency and revenue leakages – recourse to borrowing (it is relatively easy) and doing so inefficiently (largely through CBN), largely funding recurrent expenditure; Counterproductive fiscal policies- Fiscal Policy Reform (FPR) weakening manufacturing activities and new investments; Misplaced priorities – Deepening brown economy and disregarding sub-national comparative advantage, and discourages productivity and weak social compact.
These were part of submissions at the 3rd National Policy Dialogue webinar organized by the Public Affairs Service of CMC Connect LLP, Perception Consulting, which took place on Thursday, May 11, 2023.
The Webinar themed ‘Setting a Fiscal Policy Agenda for The Bola Ahmed Tinubu Administration’, aimed to foster a national discourse on the fiscal policy direction of the incoming government especially in the areas of regulations, taxation, excise duties and other policies that are making the ecosystem unfriendly for business growth.
The keynote Speaker, a distinguished economist renowned for his expertise in fiscal policy, banking, finance, and public sector consulting, Dr. Abiodun Adedipe stated that “The fiscal inefficiency, revenue leakages, misplaced priorities, risk-unconscious over-dependence on hydrocarbons, poor policy coordination, and counterproductive fiscal policies are the major reasons Nigeria is in a bad shape. However, I believe this discourse will serve as a platform to tell the incoming government the need to engage the private sector deeply in formulating and reshaping economic policies that will make Nigeria and the productive sectors bounce back, thereby promoting a better Nigeria ,” he said
Furthermore, he said “what we are selling to Tinubu`s administration is to set an agenda for ourselves, to be the top 10 economy in ten years’ time”. Dr. Adedipe eloquently elaborated on strategic directions for Bola Tinubu Government. He said, in the immediate, the incoming government should match non-oil revenue to recurrent spending, aggressively promote exports to the world market starting with African countries; strengthen domestic manufacturing, interrogating the nexus between import and export tariffs.
Elaborating further, the policy expert and Chief Consultant at B. Adedipe Associates, recommended that the Tinubu government should ensure actionable, consistent and coherent fiscal, trade and monetary policies by promoting high level actions on policy coordination and ownership, unified voice on policy pronouncement, setting the right tone at the top, revamp reform on Ease of Doing Business, evaluate policies based on deliverables. He espoused that the government must expand non-oil fiscal space, push for tax/GDP ratio of 15% and above, and align fiscal, monetary and trade policies.
The dialogue had a panel of discussants drawn from different sectors of the economy. They include Mr Tilewa Adebajo, Chief Executive Officer of CFG Advisory; Mr. Vivian Ikem, Corporate Affairs and Communications Director at Japan Tobacco International; Mrs. Sade Morgan, Corporate Affairs Director at Nigerian Breweries Plc, ably represented by Mr. Uzo Odenigbo, Head of Public, External and Government Affairs, Nigerian Breweries Plc.
In his own submission, the Corporate Affairs and Communications Director at Japan Tobacco International, JTI, Mr. Vivian Ikem, who was a panelist, spoke about issues on policy consistency, stating that inconsistency in the government policies can affect the drive of foreign direct investments. He urged the incoming government to ensure consistency of policies. He emphasized that the incoming government should ensure tight control of illicit market and stop adulterated products from grey markets being dumped into the country. Nigeria, in its present state he said, is a difficult place to do business. The incoming government should endeavor to reform the current fiscal policy and the civil service.
Other panelists Uzo Odenigbo and Tilewa Adebajo both submitted that the economy under the Tinubu administration should be data driven. Data is key in comparative fiscal analysis with other markets, and in policy formulations. Adebajo advised that the incoming government should be people centric in its policy formulations. Oil subsidy, he stated should not be removed at once. It has to be a gradual removal while refineries are being brought to optimal performance.
The former Ogun State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, and presently the Board Chairman of Odua Group Otunba Bimbo Ashiru, advised the incoming president to be very altruistic in his appointments into key positions that are germane to the success or otherwise of his administration. The former banker wants Mr Bola Tinubu to follow in the footsteps of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo administration, by appointing Nigerians with capacity to run the economy irrespective of tribe, religion and party affiliation. He emphasized that the incoming administration should also prioritize agricultural transformation being the largest employer of labour and contributor to the gross domestic product of the economy.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, the moderator Mr. Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, founder and Lead Partner at CMC Connect LLP, stated that “to achieve optimal growth and broadly shared prosperity, monetary policy must compliment physical goals”. Badejo-Okusanya enumerated key areas of failure of the Buhari administration, bringing out baseline facts and data on macroeconomic indicators from where Nigeria was in 2015 and where the nation is presently.
In his closing remarks, Partner, and Head of Public Affairs Service at CMC Connect LLP, Adetola Odusote, assured that “In our quest to make business thrive, government thrive and our nation to thrive, we at CMC Connect LLP shall continue with our National Policy Dialogue Series, a convergent platform for public affairs experts to champion policy direction for the government.. We have had policy Dialogue on Education and we brought the then Hon Minister of State for Education Mr Chukwumenka Nwajiuba, while the Hon Minister for Communication and Digital Economy Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami was our guest speaker when we held policy dialogue on Digital Economy and Fintech industry”.
Odusote revealed that key insights and submissions gathered from the dialogue series will be made available to the incoming government. “Our objective is to contribute to shaping a more prosperous and sustainable economic landscape for Nigeria. Our specialised services cover, Stakeholders Engagement, Government Relations, Lobbying, Advocacy & Issues Management, Strategic Communication, Crisis Management, Policy Research and Analysis.
CMC Connect LLP is a strategic communications firm headquartered in Lagos, and liaison office in Abuja, Nigeria.. The firm offers Public Relations, Reputation Risk Management, Publicity and Media Management, Financial Communications, Capacity Building, and ancillary marketing services to several companies including telecommunication giant, Airtel Nigeria. CMC Connect LLP was also recently awarded the ‘Best Place to Work’ at the Lagos State PR Industry Awards.