Experts disagree with EIU economic conclusions on Nigeria

More economic experts have disagreed with the latest five-year outlook by Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), which envisaged that continuous socio-political upheavals and severe economic difficulties will remain sources of serious instability in Nigeria, insisting that these scenarios will not persist as long as being predicted.

Reacting to the report, the Deputy Managing Director, Afrinvest Limited, Victor Ndukauba, while urging the Nigerian Government to take the warnings from these analyses to heart, however argued that it is not easy to forecast economic variables accurate.

As far as the polity is concerned, he said: “The greatest existential risk facing this country today is its youthful demography and the potential damage that this segment can wreck, given the lack of opportunities for self-expression and actualisation (employment, housing, etc).”

With regard to economic reforms, he added: “The greatest challenge facing the Nigerian economy today is one of poor productivity, primarily driven by structural impediments including lack of basic infrastructure (energy – power & fuel, transport, etc). The pains imposed by a big (central) government that acts more as a hindrance than as an enabler to business and commerce means that urgent reforms are required. Whether the piece meal approach to trying to fix these (modest steps taken towards improving ease of business) will have the needed impact remain to be seen (more like just hope).”

Ndukauba urged Nigeria to borrow a leaf from India, in terms of reforms, saying: “India gave the world an example of what it means to embark on major reforms with the launch of the harmonised tax system only a few days ago. We are paying a lot of lip service to our challenges with different interest groups subverting the efforts of government & by so doing, “cutting their noses to spite their faces.”

On his part, an Economist and Investment Banker, Bayo Rotimi, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Quest Advisory Services Limited, said: “I understand the anxiety around the political situation, movement in oil prices. These are things that we are aware of. If there are problems in those areas, then the nation’s economy may be adversely affected.

“On the optimistic side, oil prices in the last six months have remained reasonably steady. We have not breached the threshold of the budget. The EIU tends to be pessimistic. I don’t agree with their position on the ERGP. As always, everything is a function of implementation. Let us judge the government on the ability to implement what they have outlined to do. We can do this quarterly or otherwise. Though the challenges are there, Nigeria has passed through this road before.

“The report did not reflect gains made in the first half of the year, especially in the area of non-oil export and the expected impact of the executive orders in the months to come. In terms of inflation, I believe Nigeria’s inflation will close lower than the projected 17 per cent. I reckon between 13 and 15 per cent is where we will close. The report did not also reflect the changes in the economy, especially in the export window. This is outside the oil inflows. The various interventions are not captured. Investors’ confidence is rising as reflected in the Eurobonds and other investment measures. Though the headwinds and challenges are still there, I believe we are in the right direction.
Government needs to consistently implement the policies”.

For the Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf, he acknowledged the concerns raised in the report but noted that government efforts in the areas of policy initiation and implementation has reflected genuine commitment to growth and development.

“As far as the commitment to the new policy of ERGP, the government is genuinely committed. The Acting President is driving the process himself. PEBEC and other committees are also being chaired by him. Politically, there is strong commitment to deal with policy and economic issues.

“All these will impact positively on the economy and on the outlook. The forex issue, especially the oil price is out of government’s control and may serve as the major barrier to the growth process. The oil price has a systemic implication on the economy. With consistency in policy implementation, the political effect will be mitigated as against the EIU projection. We have always had these challenges. The future is not as gloomy as being projected”, he added.

Director-General of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Segun Kadiri said a lot has been done by the government in initiating policies that will turn the country around.He therefore urged the Federal Government to sustain implementation of the various initiatives that have been embarked upon.