NECA raises alarm on high unemployment rate

The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has said the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) latest report, which revealed that 12 million Nigerians are unemployed, is worrisome, adding that the high youth unemployment had gone beyond a mere economic issue.

Speaking at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and the 60th anniversary of NECA, President of the association, Larry Ettah raised the alarm that the high rate of unemployment in the country had become a social and security issue, which could undermine the country’s stability.

“Given the scope of the challenge, we certainly have to go outside the usual government rhetoric and ensure that we embrace a culture that will enthrone multiple centres of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“We commend good governance, massive infrastructure development, policies that focus on employment and constructive cross sectorial local content development policy that would provide jobs to the teeming Nigerian youths,” he stated.

Ettah said the current fixed exchange rate dispensation with its attendant multiple rates does not create the right pricing and resources, adding that, “Although it seems to have provided some reprieve for the value of the Naira, it is doubtful if this will be sustainable in the long term.”

He pointed out that there were clear evidences from other economies that floating exchange rate systems enable economies to respond better to declines in the value of the their export and provide adjustment mechanisms to preserve forex reserves, change incentives and behavior of economic actors.

“This is the reason we are convinced that the way to go is to allow market forces to determine the value of the Naira and consequently abolish the multiple rates. High interest rates negate economic growth and development,” he said.

He note that the association’s concern was not so much the justification for the high cost of funds, but the need for managers of the economy to appreciate that high interest rates were antithetical to growth and, therefore, needed government’s concerted and coordinated efforts.

“Such efforts should be backed by sound fiscal and monetary policies to reduce interest rates to single digit. Beyond this, government has crowded out the private sector in terms of access to credit, as it seeks to cover budgetary deficits.

The current interest rates regime has engendered a rent seeking economy that has encouraged entrepreneurship and wealth creation, with grave implication for jobs creation.

Guest Speaker at the event, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma who spoke on government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), said the it was the blueprint the current administration intends to use to fix the economy.

He said the successful implementation of the ERGP would revitalise the economy and put it back on the path of sustained, inclusive and diversified growth and development.

He added that ERGP, which was the product of extensive consultations with all stakeholders across the country, would build on the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) and sets out government policy direction for the economy in the medium to long term.

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