Buhari’s Economic Policies Need Change; say Utomi, Others

Notable economists on Tuesday urged the President Muhammadu-led administration to review, as a matter of urgency, its economies policies or risk further decline in the country's economic fortunes.

They insisted that the current economic policies of the government were not making desired impact, hence the need for a comprehensive review for a change.

This came a day after the National Bureau of Statistics released data showing the economy recorded negative growth in the third quarter of this year, making it the third consecutive quarter of decline.

It also came hours after the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Monetary Policy Committee met and left all the key economic variables, including the benchmark interest rate, which economists have been calling for its reduction, unchanged.

The economy had fallen into a recession since June, after recording negative growth in the first and second quarters of this year.

Prof. Pat Utomi and Mr. Bismarck Rewane said unless reviews were made to the existing policies, the economy would record another negative growth in the fourth quarter of this year.

Rewane said, “The policies have to complement one another. The fiscal policy is moving in the right direction, but it is not enough. We need increased stimulus and increased injection. But we cannot do this with the current level of interest rates.

“Therefore, something has to happen to bring the interest rates down. The monetary policy has to be consistent with the fiscal policy, or else we will continue to have contraction. And more than anything else, the foreign exchange market has to be reformed. The foreign exchange market, as it is currently constituted, is a bridge to nowhere.”

On his part, Prof. Utomi said it's obvious the economy was in a crisis and there was an urgent need for all stakeholders to come together to chart ways out of the present predicament.

He said, “We are dealing with a complex problem. We know generally they are under-performing. I don’t think we are having quality public conversation.

“At this time that this country is in a major national crisis, we are in a state worse than war. What we need is a war cabinet in which we all as Nigerians come together to discuss what we can do to reconstruct the falling walls of Nigeria.

“There have been reluctance to invest. Investors have generally held back. If business confidence is negative, obviously there will be a slowdown. Contrary to suggestions by government officials that we will be out of recession by December, the indicators that I am hearing about suggest that things will even get worse.”

Nigeria needs serious help, economically.