Speaking at the inauguration of the Focus Labs for the country’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) in Abuja on Tuesday, Buhari noted that the Labs being flagged off constituted one of the many strategies his administration would take to ensure that the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan was effectively implemented.
“Our key goals in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan are focused on: achieving sustainable, diversified and inclusive growth, becoming self-sufficient in basic commodities to curtail our food imports, diversifying our economic base from crude oil dependence, empowering local businesses to create thousands of jobs and, improving the general wellbeing of our people,” he said.
He noted that Focus Labs have been successfully used in other countries and assured that the Labs in Nigeria are designed as closed-door investment platforms to identify and accelerate high-impact projects with significant impact on GDP and job creation.
Buhari disclosed that in the past 10 months, economic growth returned in second quarter of 2017 due to a clear follow-through of some of the economic initiatives and that since then, the nation have consolidated on the recovery path reaching a Real GDP growth of 1.92 percent by the fourth quarter of 2017.
“We have also restored stability in foreign exchange market and have recorded improvements in our foreign reserves which have grown from 24 billion US dollars in September 2016 to 42 billion US dollars by mid-February 2018 and now 46 billion US dollars. This has been achieved partially because of the recovery of oil prices on the international market.
“We have made remarkable strides in creating a conducive business environment for investors, earning the World Bank’s ranking as one of the Top 10 most improved economies in 2017. This has encouraged both local and foreign investments in the last few months,” he said.
According to him, the government remains committed to working hard to attain the target of moving up in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings by 2020.
He added that the government is investing billions of naira in fixing infrastructures across the country and that significant progress has also been made in the agricultural sector with the expansion of the Anchor Borrower’s programme of the central bank to more beneficiaries to boost our local production.
Buhari announced plans to build upon the success of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative to double the 500,000 metric tons of fertilizer delivered to States, agro-dealers and farmers in 2017, by achieving production output of 1 million metric tons in 2018.
According to the Nigerian leader, local food production, particularly rice, has witnessed a remarkable growth and has saved the nation millions of dollars of foreign exchange and these improvements in economic indices translate to visible improvements in the lives of our citizens.