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Data dearth, poor modelling flagged as constraints to Nigeria’s development planning

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Inadequate modelling framework and poor implementation capacity by the various tiers of government, lack of adequate and necessary data, among other issues have been flagged as constraints to Nigeria’s development planning according to economic experts in Nigeria.

This was discussed at the first annual macroeconomic modellers international conference, themed COVID-19 and African economies: impacts, policy responses, and strategic options for the future organized by the Nigerian Association of Macroeconomic Modellers (NAMM).

While delivering the keynote address, titled Macroeconomic Modelling and Economic Planning in Nigeria: Lessons of Experience and Suggestions for the Future, Sam Olofin, Founder, Centre for Econometrics and Allied Research (CEAR), University of Ibadan said the concept of a perfect model that is most accurate to fit the data of the given economy and describe the economy most accurately and efficiently.

“Models should contain essential elements so that their results qualify for appropriate policy-making, rather than mere tools for research publications in academic journals,

The realistic assumptions should consider capital mobility, labour mobility, Macro closure, and optimal policy, and monetary/financial blocs,” he said.

He admitted that models could go wrong when modellers adopt oversimplified assumptions and when model solutions contrast with economic reality.

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“There should be more tenacity and rigorousness on the part of the government towards development planning and economic policymaking. In addition, modellers should not be reluctant to apply the rigorous steps and procedures needed in creating a good model,” he recommended.

During the panel session comprising David Adeosun, Director, Finance & Account, Ministry of Finance; Michael Adebiyi, Director, Research Department, Central Bank of Nigeria; Samuel Omenka, technical advisor to the Director-General, Budget office; Olusegun Omisakin, Chief Economist, Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and Henry Okodua, Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics, Covenant University, Ota.

The panellist mentioned that there is no synergy among researchers and policymakers in the private sector, public sector, and academia. Adding that there is usually a mismatch between theories and realities.

It was recommended that there is a need to deepen the policymaking process in the public sector with proper engagement between the public and private sector, furthermore, modellers must understand and envisage issues such as corruption, policies, etc.

Adeola Adenikinju, NAMM President in his remarks said that interest in macroeconomic modelling is waning among the younger scholars in Nigeria which poses a fundamental problem for proffering economic development solutions.

He added that it is important to increase interest in macroeconomic modelling through the use of incentives, less difficult representations, updated modelling techniques, and tools.