• Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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BusinessDay

The emergency economic management team: Setting the agenda

Tinubu raises team to monitor primary health care in 774 LGAs

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the Federal Executive Council Meeting last week took far-reaching steps to address the ongoing economic crises facing the country by establishing two additional organs of economic management along with the already existing Economic Management Team. These are the 31-man Presidential Economic Coordinating Council (PECC) and the 19-man Economic Management Team Emergency Taskforce (EET). The PECC could not be more highly distinguished and high-powered, with the President as Chairman, the Vice President Kashim Shettima as Vice-Chairman; and the President of the Senate; the Chairman, Nigeria Governors Forum; the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minster of the Economy, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), ten other ministers and the two ministers of state in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources as members; along with thirteen top level leaders from the private sector, who are to serve for a maximum period of one year.

The Economic Management Team Emergency Taskforce (EET) is headed by the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy and has as members five other ministers, the Governor of CBN, the National Security Adviser, four state governors, including the Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum, three key public sector CEOs, the Special Adviser to the President on Energy and three top-level private sector economists and technocrats.

The Economic Management Team Emergency Taskforce (EET) is given the “mandate to formulate and implement a consolidated emergency economic plan…and to submit a comprehensive plan of economic interventions for 2024 to the PECC, covering the next six (6) months, for immediate implementation within two weeks of its inauguration,” and is to meet twice weekly. “The Economic Management Team, established in October 2023, and chaired by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, serves as the working group under the Presidential Economic Coordination Council (PECC), playing a crucial role in the economic governance structure established by the President.”

It is quite clear that the EET is mandated to be the engine room for transformative ideas and strategies that will within a period of six months provide workable solutions to the daunting challenges facing the Nigerian economy. In short, the committee is expected to conjure a short-term economic blueprint that will stabilize the economy and put it on a path of moderate growth. A cursory examination of the list of the membership of the EET shows there are at least 10 high-powered experts and technocrats from diverse fields and sectors of the economy who can add tremendous value to the work of the committee.

On the other hand, the pre-existing Economic Management Team, comprising 13 ministers/members of the Federal Executive Council and the Central Bank Governor, is expected to serve as the linchpin between the EET and the PECC, which, as designed by the President, is to serve as the highest economic coordinating organ of the government working in close liaison with the National Economic Council headed by the Vice President. Since the EMT will not be holding their regular monthly meetings duration the 6 months assignment of the EET, and since 6 members of the EMT are also members of the EET, it is expected that both organs will literally fuse into a single entity during the six-month period.

The mandate of the EET is clear: simply “to formulate and implement a consolidated emergency economic plan” within 6 months of its inauguration. However, we all know the members of the team are all very busy public and private sector CEOs, including economy line ministers. So, how are they going to effectively juggle their tight work schedules with meeting twice a week to do the work of the emergency economic team?”

I think the way forward is first to set up a secretariat for the EET within the office of the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, which should be populated by technocrats from the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Budget and Planning, the Research Department of CBN and related units, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the EFCC/NFIU. Secondly, each of the members of the EET should appoint their own in-house technical working group in their respective offices to serve as their think tanks or thinking heads. The work of the technical teams both at the secretariat and in the offices of the EET members should be heavily data-driven, coupled with scenario-building.

Some of the key issues the EET will have to address in its work will include, 1) stabilizing the foreign exchange market; 2) coordinating with CBN by designing non-monetary tools to tame inflation, especially food inflation – and in this regard moderating diesel and aviation fuel prices through increased local production; 3) significantly scaling up the compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel conversion programme so as reduce the cost of transportation and food inflation; 4) developing a foreign exchange supply and demand management plan as the most sustainable long-term strategy to stabilize the foreign exchange market; 5) a short-term agricultural production plan for a bumper harvest, including taming the scourge of insecurity in our food basket regions; and finally, 6) a coordinated response from state governments under the aegis of Nigerian Governors Forum.

It must be noted that the newly introduced coordinated economic planning framework with the PECC at the apex is essentially a short-termish economic planning framework, which does not replace the need for multi-year and perspective planning.