• Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigeria seeks World Bank support on economic recovery

Nigeria, four others record fastest rise in food inflation – World Bank

Anna Bjerde, the World Bank managing director of operations, has met with federal government authorities for talks on what she called “ambitious” plan of government to steer the economy towards recovery and what more support that Bretton Woods Institution can avail the Africa largest economy.

BusinessDay understands that ongoing talks are focused on macroeconomic reforms as well as Nigeria’s social safety net programs which the bank is hugely supporting especially at this time.

Bjerde who is visiting Nigeria for the first time said she is also in the country to assess the ongoing projects and Programme of the World Bank in order to decide on areas of further support for the country currently undergoing economic stress.

“I have come to Nigeria to have conversations and discussions over the coming days on the ambitious plans that are being put in place on economic recovery, but also on our program, which is one of our largest programs that we have.

“We have about 30 projects under implementation here in Nigeria, and it’s an opportunity for me to take stock of the progress and performance of our program and make sure that as the world bank, we provide all the support that we can as Nigeria embarks on reforms of its economy, and continues to focus on important transformation and opportunities,including in the energy sector, digitalization and human development,” Bjerde stated during an interaction with some select media on Wednesday evening.

Bjerde addressed the press alongside Wale Edun, Minister of of finance and coordinating minister for the economy; Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, and Yemi Cardoso, governor, Central Bank of NigerIa (CBN); and Ousmane Diagana World Bank Vice President for Western and Central Africa

In his brief speech, finance minister, Edun, acknowledged World Bank’s interest and support for NigerIa and noted that Bjerde’s visit which followed just six months after a similar one by Ajay Banga, World Bank president in August last year demonstrates confidence in the ongoing reforms of the present government and collaboration.

“They are here to interact with us,” Edun stated. “Recently, the president of the World Bank, Ajay Banga himself was received by Mr. President at the Villa and it’s in continuation of that close collaboration and that keen interest in what is going on in Nigeria at this time of major reforms and an attempt to get the country back on the path of growth, recovery and without, on unduly straining the people of Nigeria.

“And the World Bank has been part of that whole process, helping us in the energy sector, macro economic support, as well as social sector support.

He recalled that direct cash payments to the poorest and the most vulnerable which is a major part of the social investment and welfare program of government’s policy to cushion the effect of ongoing tough reforms is partly funded partly by the World Bank.

“Over the next couple of days, we’ll talk about the economics, we will talk about social aspects, and we will talk about the overall reform that the Nigerian economy is undergoing at this time.

Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Minister of Budget and Economic Planning disclosed that in the last few months the finance minister has chaired morning meetings with the World Bank team on its portfolio and areas of assistance as Nigeria embarks on one of the boldest reforms in recent times in a developing nation.

“We are glad that the World Bank team has been very supportive both at the federal and the subnational level, especially the IDA facilities which can support us to transit from the challenges of the moment occasioned by ongoing reforms.

He also noted that the present administration has delivered one of the boldest budgets in Nigeria’s history especially, which for the first time reduced deficits by over 40% as well as raise capital spending to the highest level in two decades.

“We reckon that in doing so, our multilateral institutions will appreciate the risks and opportunities that are associated with such reform measures and that the World Bank will stand with us and and support us,” he pleaded.

“We need more support, such will encourage other countries in the region and around the developing world.”

Commenting, Cardoso acknowledged the power of partnerships between the World Bank and Nigeria as well as enormous support so far, especially in knowledge sharing that the country has enjoyed.

He said: “We would like to acknowledge the the power of partnerships, and in particular, to acknowledge and recognize the importance to us by having such senior people in the World Bank come to Nigeria and add to a lot of the work that has been done by their staff on ground.

“We are also quite mindful of the fact that the World Bank isn’t just a bank that is there to intervene with dollars and cents, which is important, but it’s also a knowledge bank, and there is so much that countries like us can benefit from having access to a wide range of different experiences and best practices by virtue of the fact that they’re in so many countries of the world and experienced so much over the years.”