Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has placed the private sector at the heart of his economic agenda to pull Africa’s largest economy from the brink of collapse, if elected president in 2023.
The private sector will be tapped to create jobs, improve infrastructure and reduce poverty, according to Atiku who received wide applause while addressing business leaders in Lagos on Tuesday.
He vowed to give tax breaks to the private sector to incentivise investments and create jobs, and promised improved dialogue with them in order to secure their buy-in when policies are designed.
Atiku, who officially unveiled his economic agenda at a forum organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said: “We cannot overcome our economic challenges without significant reforms to restructure the economy and to support the private sector to unleash its growth potential and play a key role in the economy.
“A strong, productive and pro-growth private sector is needed to create wealth, generate employment opportunities and help fight poverty.”
The former Vice-President said he would work to double Nigeria’s GDP and achieve a per capita GDP of $5,000 by 2030.
The private sector will also contribute to Atiku’s plan to slow down the rate of the government’s debt accumulation through Public Private Partnerships in critical infrastructure funding.
Nigeria is mired in a fiscal crisis, with debt service costs overshooting revenues in the first quarter of 2022.
The government’s borrowing has drawn the criticism of several economists who say the tripling of the debt stock in seven years has had little impact on economic growth and living standards.
Atiku also said monetary and fiscal authorities will be better coordinated and he shall ensure a stable macro-economic environment with low inflation, stable exchange rate and interest rates that will be supportive of businesses’ quest for credit.
He also said he will allow the independence of the Central Bank of Nigeria to pursue its mandate but ensure that such policies are not detrimental to Nigeria’s quest for FDI and to Nigeria’s long-term growth.
Atiku said: “We will push for a foreign exchange policy that encourages capital inflows and makes capital outflows less attractive to the investors.
“I will break the jinx in infrastructure financing. We will support the private sector to drive growth.
We will establish strong partnership in investing in infrastructure, in creating jobs and income and in the fight against poverty.”
Within the first 100 days in office his administration will also create an economic stimulus fund with an initial investment capacity of US$10 billion to prioritize support to MSMEs across all the economic sectors.
Atiku said he will implement far reaching fiscal restructuring to improve liquidity as well as the management of the country’s fiscal resources.
He outlined five bold steps which include an immediate review of government spending with a view to eliminating all leakages arising from subsidy payments.
The second step is to stop all fiscal support to ailing state-owned enterprises.
Third is to improve spending efficiency by gradual reduction of government recurrent expenditure. Over the medium term, recurrent expenditure. His target is that the government’s recurrent expenditure does not exceed 45 percent of the budget.
He will also focus on non-debt financing by promoting a private sector led infrastructure development fund for the financing and delivery of key infrastructure
Fifth step is to slow down the rate of debt accumulation by promoting more Public Private Partnerships in critical infrastructure funding and identifying more innovative funding options.
“Specifically, our government will ensure that all borrowed funds are for priority infrastructure projects that would generate income, boost output, and put the economy on the path of sustainable growth,” Atiku said.