It’s time to take tough decisions, revisit Oronsaye’s report, stakeholders insist

Stakeholders have urged the nation’s economic managers to take tough decisions bordering on the implementation of the Steve Oronsaye’s 2014 report and diversify the economy.

They stated this while responding to the falling prices of oil in the global market, insisting that the Federal Government needed to take the tough measures now that COVID-19 was yet to take a toll on the economy as a result of the lockdown.

They lamented that new agencies have since been created to the already-bloated cost of governance as against the recommendations by the Oronsaye-led committee that the number of government parastatals, commissions and agencies in the country be reduced.

While it may be difficult to impose new taxes on businesses and the citizens as a result of the weak purchasing power and economic meltdown, the Federal Government may have no choice than to reduce its overhead and personnel costs that account for at least N2tr of its fiscal spending plan.

Already, oil earnings plummeted due to drop in oil prices, just as demand for foreign exchange for importation of fuel, food and other commodities is expected to rise in a few weeks.

Team Lead, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) and Developmental Law expert, Eze Onyekpere, stated that the present situation offers the Federal Government an opportunity to implement certain reforms like the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

He said the Oronsaye’s Panel recommended governance reforms, review of health tourism by public officials, as well as a review of activities of revenue-generating agencies.

According to him, many revenue-generating agencies were not declaring their full earnings, despite the resources available to them, while stretching the budget with overhead expenses.

On its part, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) stated that it was time for financial managers to begin to set agenda for the nation’s economy after the pandemic, adding that the pandemic has derailed business projections and several risks have cropped up.

Director-General of LCCI, Dr. Muda Yusuf, noted that although digital platforms have become more vibrant, they are not enough to generate the desired momentum of economic activities, as interactions and connectivity among economic agents are at the lowest ebb.

Also, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) pointed out that it was time to encourage local production by incentivising manufacturing and boosting local patronage.

Meanwhile, aviation stakeholders have urged the Federal Government to pay keen attention to the viability of the sector, describing it as a potential mainstay of the economy.

Some are, however, worried that the local airlines are currently in distress and in need of palliative support to make a significant contribution to the economy.

Chairman of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Captain Nogie Meggison, said to ensure the quick recovery of the economy after the pandemic, there was the need for government to adopt measures that would guarantee the survival of airlines, which is the main catalyst and a pivot to the quick recovery of the Nigerian economy.

Also, Aviation Security Consultant, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd), stressed that the country should diversify into agriculture with its value chain and manufacturing, even before aviation.

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