Minister faults World Bank’s classification of Nigeria based on large population.
The Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Thursday reacted to the pronouncement by the World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim, classifying Nigeria among the world’s “extreme poor countries.”
The World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim, who was addressing participants at the Council on Foreign Relations, CFR, meeting in New York, said two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor are concentrated in just five countries, namely India, China, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“If you add another five countries — Indonesia, Pakistan, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Kenya — the total grows to 80 per cent of the extreme poor,” Mr. Kim said.
But, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, who is also the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, faulted the World Bank President’s classification of Nigeria based on the large number of poor people living in the country.
The Minister, also a former World Bank Vice-President, noted that using the number of poor people in a country, irrespective of the country’s level of development, as the parameter to rate Nigeria among nations with high poverty levels, was wrong.
She pointed out that the phenomenon of large number of poor people was peculiar to middle-income countries, which Nigeria belonged.
Citing the example of India, a middle-income country, which is one of the largest economies in the world like Nigeria, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said the largest number of poor people in the world reside in India, China and other places.
She said Nigeria was no exception, as the reality today was that most middle-income countries, including Brazil, have large number of poor people.
“When the World Bank President was talking, he also mentioned that India is doing well and it has a large number of poor people. So, we should not try to single Nigeria out. The phenomenon we have in Nigeria is that we are growing, but there are poor people everywhere,’’ she stated.
The focus of Nigerians therefore should be on the answers to the problem raised by the World Bank President and what other countries were doing that Nigeria could learn from so as to improve.
“Nobody is saying that everything is fine, but we are learning, and where we make some progress like other countries, we should also acknowledge it,’’ Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said.
The Federal Government, she stated, was making efforts in different areas of the country’s economy to reduce poverty and improve living standards of the people, with about five ministers directed by President Goodluck Jonathan to working towards formulating a social safety programme to be implemented for the benefit of the citizens.
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