Updated: February 25, 2021
Nigeria’s foreign reserves have hit $47.93 billion, the West African country’s central bank governor disclosed on Sunday, even as the Minister of Finance tried to paint a cautious but positive picture of the economy, amid projections by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the Nigerian economy would grow a bit slower in 2018 compared to the economies of two-thirds of the countries on the continent.
The World Bank and the IMF have predicted that while the economy of Africa would experience a 3.4 percent growth in 2018, that of Nigeria would just grow at 2.5 percent.
Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun and the Nigerian central bank governor, Godwin Emefiele, spoke at a joint press briefing in Washington, District of Columbia, in the United States, at the end of the IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings.
Their message was simple and clear: Nigeria’s positive growth outlook would be sustained.
Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun and the Nigerian central bank governor, Godwin Emefiele, speak at a joint press briefing in Washington, District of Columbia, in the United States, at the end of the IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings on 22 April, 2018. Photo: Simon Ateba
With more billions pouring into foreign reserves, Mr. Emiefele explained that there was need to save “for the rainy days” and also continue to grow the foreign reserves.
“If we had enough reserves, we wouldn’t have suffered the recession shocks,” he said.
He also delved into other issues, assuring that concerted efforts were ongoing to realize the 80 percent target for financial inclusion by 2020.
Adeosun, the Minister of Finance and the head of the Nigerian delegation at the Spring Meetings, noted that the present growth outlook contrasted with the outlook in 2015. She said inflation rate was slowing down while the foreign reserves were rising.
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Mrs. Adeosun also expressed optimism on the Federal Government’s sustenance of the growth trajectory, but called for vigilance and focus, warning that Nigeria could slip back into recession should complacency take over.
“We are confident that if we diligently implement our economic plan, we will grow the economy. We have room to grow but other countries do not have rooms to grow,” Adeosun said.
Minister for Fiance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun (r) and the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele addressing the media on Nigeria’s participation in the 2018 tatutory Spring Meetings of the IMF/World Bank at the Wprld Bank Office, Washington DC, USA. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida 22/04/2018
“By 2019, the growth will be far more robust than the present level in 2018. We are therefore very optimistic in sustaining Nigeria’s economic growth. We are going to use this opportunity to grow our fiscal buffers, particularly aggressively growing our revenue base.
“The Administration has succeeded in building macroeconomic resilience for Nigeria, particularly revising the funding mix, rebuilding fiscal buffers, enhancing foreign exchange reserves and focusing on import substitution strategies.”
On the State-Owned-Enterprises such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, she disclosed that the Government would continue to efficiently and effectively manage their costs and plug leakages.
“We must make sure that every money that is earned comes in. We will drive the process of improving governance,” she added.
On the nation’s domestic debt, the Minister stated that the Government would not aggressively grow the debt.
“We are refinancing our inherited debt portfolio from short term Treasury Bills to longer tenured debt which has resulted in huge savings and reduction in costs of funds for the Government,” she said.
She disclosed that the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) deadline was extended by three months till June 30, 2018 due to the appeals from tax payers for more time to regularise their tax status.
She revealed that the present Administration has raised the tax payers’ base from 13 million in 2015 to 17 million as at 2018.
The Minister confirmed the recovery of the sum of US$322,515,931.83 Abacha funds from the Swiss Government into a special account in the CBN.
The funds, according to her, have been earmarked for the National Social Safety Nets programme of the Government.
“The objective of the National Social Safety Nets Project for Nigeria is to provide access to targeted transfers to poor and vulnerable households under an expanded national social safety nets system,” Adeosun stated.
. Emmanuel Ikodor contributed to this report