The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has discussed a range of policy recommendations with the government of Nigeria aimed at improving the African State’s competitiveness, focusing specifically on the critical areas of infrastructure, energy, transport and housing, IMF MD Christine Lagarde said at the conclusion of a visit to the country this week.
Policy discussions further centered on identifying ways to broaden the revenue base, particularly to create additional fiscal space to offset the impact of lower oil prices and the need for careful decisions on borrowing, public spending and managing the cost of fuel subsidies.
This would, Lagarde noted, require a package of measures involving business-friendly monetary policy, flexible exchange rate policy, disciplined fiscal policy and the implementation of structural reforms.
“In my meetings with the authorities, we discussed how to maintain economic progress while making the transition towards more inclusive and sustainable growth.
“Poverty, inequality, and unemployment levels remain too high, in addition to the challenge of the Boko Haram insurgency. Nigeria also has to deal with the difficulties presented by falling oil prices, reduced emerging market demand and tightening global financial conditions.
“This has led to sharply lower export earnings and government revenues, while the non-oil sector has also been affected and financing for investment is hard to come by. The IMF remains Nigeria’s committed partner as it moves forward to face the challenges of the future,” she commented.
Remarking on Nigeria’s position as the largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa, Lagarde described it as well diversified and no longer dominated by agriculture and oil, with services accounting for almost half of gross domestic product.
Nigeria had also experienced a decade of strong growth, averaging 6.8% a year. However, growth was expected to have slowed to about 3.25% in 2015, with a slight recovery in 2016.
“My visit to Nigeria has been extremely fruitful and informative. I wish to thank President Muhammadu Buhari for meeting with me to discuss Nigeria’s achievements and its outlook.
“I also want to thank Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun and Central Bank of Nigeria governor Godwin Emefiele for their insights,” she said.
During her visit, Lagarde complimented the authorities on their efforts to address corruption, particularly the decision to publish monthly data on the finances and operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.