Diversification: Implementation of ‘zero oil plan’ kicks off – Udoma

Senator Udoma Udo Udoma
Minister of Budget and National Planning Senator Udoma Udo Udoma [Photo Credit: Channels TV]

Determined to achieve the diversification of the country’s economy, the Minister of Budget & National Planning, Udo Udoma, says the implementation of federal government’s zero oil plan has commenced.

The minister who was speaking in Lagos at the 42nd Annual Conference Dinner of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria (ICSAN) said the zero oil plan was part of government’s economic recovery and growth plan to reduce dependence on crude oil as country’s main foreign exchange earner.

Mr Udoma said the National Committee on Export Promotion (NCEP) is working closely with the state governments to establish domestic export warehouse and ‘aggregation centres’ in each of the six geo-political zones of the country.

“The committee is also promoting Made-in-Nigeria for Export (MINE) project where the special economic zones will be used as the mechanism for making Nigeria the pre-eminent manufacturing hub in Sub-Saharan Africa and a major exporter of made-in-Nigeria goods and services regionally and globally,” he said.

Mr Udoma spoke on the theme: ‘Exploring the diversification agenda towards the emergence of a resilient economy.’

Apart from a Federal Executive Council (FEC) approval, Mr Udoma said the project has equally secured early commitments from domestic and foreign investors in textile and garments as well as agro-processing.

The government, he said, was also reactivating the export expansion grant (EEG) scheme and the export development fund (EDF) scheme, with about N13.28 billion provided in the 2018 Budget.

To make Nigeria an attractive place to conduct business, he said government has prioritised the improvement of the country’s business climate, with the Presidential Enabling Business Committee (PEBEC) set up to focus on this.

These efforts, he noted, have started bearing fruits as recent surveys by the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) showed significant rise in investors’ interest in Nigeria.

According to the NIPC, for the first three quarters of 2018 (between January and September 2018), announcements for proposed investments valued at about $73.08 billion were made for 65 projects in 18 states and the Federal Capital territory (FCT).

Analysis of the announcements, he added, showed 11 sectors of interest, with mining and quarrying accounting for 43 per cent of the total value; construction 25 per cent, manufacturing 23 per cent, electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply, and transportation and storage having three per cent each. The remaining sectors account for two per cent.

Although not all announcements would become successfully executed projects, he said the increase in announcements of proposed business projects was a signal to improved confidence in the country’s economy.

To help investors, the minister said sector specific focus labs in agriculture and transportation, manufacturing and processing and in power and gas were conducted early this year as part of the priority areas identified by the ERGP.

The labs, he explained, involved inviting potential investors to meet with key government officials and regulators, with the objective of addressing any bureaucratic issues investors might face in setting up projects in Nigeria.

“Some of the early successes recorded in this first set of focus labs was our development of a National Gold Development Policy and the establishment of a Federal Gold Reserve Scheme in Nigeria. After this first set we are committed to holding more focus labs.”

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