Reinforcing ERGP with Malaysian economic model
As Nigeria’s economic blueprint, Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) is yet to register accelerated impact on the economy, the Federal Government is introducing a Malaysian model to strengthen the process.
In the hay days of economic recession, egg heads in government got cracking with workable ideas as all manner of theories were canvassed and tested.
At a time, it was suggested by local experts that the surest way for government to spend her way out of the recession should be to put money in citizens’ pockets as well as paying up backlog of debts owed local and multinational contractors.
Experts and government think tanks drew a long list of exit routes from the trap. One of the strategies adopted was to launch the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
ERGP as growth panacea
The ERGP is government’s adopted economic blueprint for retooling the economy from its knee-jerk position occasioned by recession. Launched in April 2017 by President Muhammadu Buhari, ERGP is a comprehensive medium-term plan structured to run from 2017 to 2020.
The document was a product of extensive collaboration between leading players in private and public sectors.
There were series of stakeholders’ sessions held with members of the National Assembly, leading technocrats, members of the academia at different zones to brainstorm with a view to coming out with an economic blueprint. It was targeted at beyond merely getting the economy out of recession. Paramountly, it seeks to amongst others, put the economy on path of strong and very diversified footing.
After almost 11 months of its debut as a major economic package of the current administration, the impact of ERGP is yet to be pragmatically felt on the economy as envisaged.
The challenge with infrastructure remains a huge drawback. The roads across the country are still more of death traps. This largely remains a bottleneck inhibiting free movement of goods. Finished goods can’t be moved on time from point of production to where they are needed. Manufacturers are still confronted with legion of problems – higher tariffs and epileptic power supply.
These and more go into production cost and are invariably passed on to end consumers. Job opportunities, which ERGP envisages to be provided, are yet to manifest at the rate it could impact positively on the economy.
Determined to make best use of good packages contained in ERGP, the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, the implementation organ of ERGP, has come up with ‘Focus Labs’ to accelerate implementation of ERGP, an idea borrowed from Malaysia.
It is designed to quicken implementation of ERGP. Addressing the media last week in Abuja, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, explained what Focus Labs stood for. He said that process is one of the several initiatives by government to fast-track the attainment of ERGP objectives.
According to the details, the labs will be conducted initially in three strategic sectors: Agriculture and transportation, power and gas, manufacturing and processing (including solid minerals). “The objective is to align with the private sector on the projects that offer the most catalytic impact on investment and job creation and develop plans to implement them.
“Government is committed to addressing any inter-agency problems that could hinder or slow down investment, so as to stimulate interest amongst investors in investing in Nigeria,” Udoma said.
Shedding lights on it, he said the labs would identify projects, which will drive catalytic growth that “will contribute in increasing private investments and create new jobs for Nigerians (Entry Point Projects or EPPs).
“Develop clear implementation plans for each EPP with identified budget, key individuals responsible for these activities and accountable lead ministers along with key performance indicators,” he explained.
“Breakdown silos to harness private-public partnerships, align stakeholders to execute the plans, and build trust and credibility between the public and private sectors.
“Over the last seven weeks, the ERGP implementation team have been working to map and understand the projects that exist across six core sectors of the economy and the stakeholders involved. “This includes asking the private sector to submit project details to the implementation unit for review.
The outcome of this process has been the identification of potential Entry Point Projects which investors and the government can review and discuss over the coming weeks.”
The minister said the consultant is just for the pilot phase of the programme after which Nigerians will take over.
“They will help us and bring their international connections, reach and give it credibility. It is for $500,000 per lab,” Mr. Udoma said.
He also said the key objectives of the labs are to identify all relevant key players from the public and private sector that are crucial in the delivery and implementation of the ERGP initiative “so as to create ownership early on in the development process.”
He said the labs will review and re-evaluate the ERGP and sectoral plans against set targets and progress and will also identify gaps in the current eco system and the key success factors. “We will further deliver detailed three phase line by line implementation activities.
We will identify entry point of projects, we will identify key performance indicators, breaking down silos and encourage key players.” The minister said the focus of the lab is to mobilise private sector investment to finance specific capital projects. “As you know public resources are limited, so these labs will bring in private sector players.
“We will look at the various areas including infrastructure, manufacturing and bring them in and mobilise private sector financing and resources for the labs.
“So what council has approved today is that we bring in some consultants who did a similar thing in Malaysia to try to help us build our own capacity, they will just help us at the beginning and after that we will take over and do it ourselves,” he said.
Tapping into Malaysian experience
The government is borrowing a leaf from Malaysia, an Asian country said to have made success of Focus Labs.
To secure the buy-in of National Assembly, Head of the Malaysian Performance Management Delivery Unit (PEMANDU), Dr Idris Jala, briefed the leadership of the National Assembly on the Malaysian experience, and indicated that the Malaysian economic history had a lot of semblance with the Nigerian experience.
He said at a point the Malaysian economy took a downward turn and he had to warn that unless there was a fundamental way of managing the economy, the country would go bankrupt. He recommended transformational leadership at all levels, which entailed taking actions that may be painful in the short term but beneficial in the long run to the people.
He said that Malaysia also used the lab process with great success as a tool for the transformation of its economy.
It is true that the economy is out of recession but still very much in a recovery mode, struggling to deepen its feet. For ERGP to fulfil one of its objectives, which is to restore growth to a positive path and sustain it to, at least, seven per cent by 2020, all hands must be on deck.
by Abdulwahab Isa
Source: New Telegraph
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