Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has assured the private sector of his total support when he wins the February 25 presidential election.
He made this pledge on Friday at a summit organised by the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, tagged, “Dialogue with Presidential Candidates on the Nigerian Economy.” The summit provided an opportunity for the APC presidential candidate to outline some of his economic plans for the nation.
The former Lagos State governor, speaking before a selected audience of organised private sector participants, both local and foreign, promised to provide the needed administrative and legislative support to ensure the growth of the private sector. He acknowledged the important role the private sector plays in attaining economic prosperity and understood the challenges the sector is currently going through.
However, in outlining his economic plans for the nation, he admitted that the most serious economic challenge the country is facing right now is insecurity, far from the budget deficit that many have persistently condemned. With the budget deficit rising to as high as 370 percent, or N55.3 trillion, in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, many have questioned the rationale behind his continued excessive borrowing.
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Tinubu, however, argued in defence of the present government that there was nothing wrong with borrowing. He made an example out of some developed countries such as Japan, which, facing the current global economic challenges of a high food and energy crisis, had built its economic recovery on deficit financing.
“A budget deficit is not necessarily bad. Look at the Japanese example with high government borrowing and low inflation.
“The real issue is whether deficit spending is productive or not. Unproductive deficit spending is a compound negative, especially if backed by excessive borrowing of foreign currency.
“This is not classroom economics, but it is the lesson of the real economic history of nations,” Tinubu said.
He admitted that his government was going to deal with the insecurity challenges that, which according to him, “continue to drive away investor confidence in the economy.”
“First, to achieve the economy we seek, we must resolve the pressing security issues. No nation can flourish with terrorists and kidnappers in their midst,” Tinubu said at a time when there was a recent terrorist train attack at Igueben Local Government Area of Edo State, which led to the kidnapping of more than ten passengers.
He promised that, once sworn in as president, he would immediately address fiscal, monetary, and trade reforms in order to effectively increase domestic production, thereby reducing imported inflation, and to ensure better macroeconomic stability by accelerating inclusive growth and job creation throughout Nigeria.
“I do not hold to the mainstream view that all forms of inflation are best tackled by interest rate hikes and shrinking the economy.”
“Supply-induced inflation does not lend itself to this harsh medicine, just as one does not cure a headache by plucking out one’s eye,” he said.
After a detailed presentation, Tinubu answered questions and took comments from the audience. “Look at the bottleneck in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) itself,” he said. “the one we’re in right now—untying the bottleneck and accelerating action is our major focus.”
He explained further, “you ask proposal, you summit today, you must have a timeline for the approval of that project. If I know as an investor that I am giving you this proposal and expected the return within the next three, four weeks and I get it and it is calendarized I will bring my money.”