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Oil prices slump will delay infrastructure projects — Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR (right) receiving the Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (Management) Board (PEF), Alhaji Ahmed Bobboi, during a visit by the latter at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, last Friday.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday said the Coronavirus scourge would impact negatively on efforts by his administration to improve the nation’s infrastructure and human capital needs given the country’s over-dependence on crude oil revenues.

Noting that oil revenues which account for about 60 percent of government revenues have dropped by over 45percent in recent weeks, the President said government will continue toimplement measures that would stimulate growth in other sectors and by so doing, mitigate the impact of external shocks on the economy in the years ahead.

President Buhari made these remarks at the Dinner Session following the conclusion of the CBN-organised “Going for Growth 2:0 Roundtable Session” on Wednesday in Abuja.

President Buhari said the recent decline in crude oil prices had affected government’s ability to meet the infrastructure and human capital needs given our dependence on crude oil revenues for close to 60 percent of government revenues.

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He said the recent developments in the global economic space underscored the need for Nigeria to be self-sufficient in the production of critical goods.

The President said: “For these objectives to be achieved, the vital role of the Nigerian private sector cannot be disputed or overemphasized. I am delighted to note that we have made some progress in our diversification plans and in creating an enabling environment for the Nigerian private sector to thrive.

“In the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, we have seen substantial improvements in the cultivation and processing of key staple commodities such as rice, maize, cotton and tomatoes.

“We have also worked to improve access to finance for businesses in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors. Access to credit is often cited as a constraint to the growth of farmers and small and medium sized businesses. Over the past 10 months, we have seen significant improvements in credit to support continued growth of our economy.

“I am aware that lending rates by banks to farmers, small businesses and manufacturers have been lowered over the same period. These measures along with aggressive efforts at rebuilding our road, rail and power infrastructure will help to reduce the cost of doing business in Nigeria and promote faster growth of our economy”, he added

With annual population rates, the President harped on the need to continue to support growth in sectors that have the ability to absorb the employment needs of our growing population, stressing that “with our vast arable land as well as population, ample room for growth exist in our agriculture and manufacturing sectors.”

On collaboration with the private sector, he said “the recommendations provided on ways in which the private sector can support growth in key sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, ICT, and finance are necessary if we are to achieve double digit growth of our economy.”

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