Why We Ruled Out Private Sector Membership On Economic Management Team – Presidency

Buhari-OsinbajoThe Presidency yesterday justified the non-inclusion of private sector players in the National Economic Management Team (NEMT) under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The NEMT, headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), is the federal government’s think-thank responsible for the formulation of the nation’s economic policy direction.

Justifying the decision in an interview with reporters in Abuja Thursday, the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, said the Presidency considered the management of the economy a government responsibility.

“It’s not something that this government believes should be done by bringing in some of the private interests into the economic team to take a decision that they’ll be directly involved with. So, our stand is that the management of the economy is a government responsibility”, Akande said.

He added that the private sector was not completely left out, as other stakeholders are regularly engaged by the government.

He said: “For instance, we have started meeting on a constant basis with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN). There have been meetings with arms of the economic sector of the country. There have been meetings with the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) and some other economic interests with companies, making presentations.

“But generally, this is a government team and the team has been able to set out before the budget trying to figure out what the budget ought to focus on. After the budget was presented and signed, there was also the publication of the strategic implementation plan, which was produced in a reader friendly format.

“All of these are the outcomes of what the economic management team does and it’s also in the team that you’ve the heap of the whole physical and monetary policies. The team meets every Monday and makes proposals and suggestions to the president. But then, the team is actually like an ad-hoc committee of the Federal Executive Council, and that’s why we don’t throw a lot of media around it because it’s a committee meant to advise Mr. President.

“So, the team, for instance, defined six themes around the economy and used that to build the budget and reflate the economy. The first is policy, governance and security including ensuring a stable and predictable currency exchange rate and securing the nation. The second one is diversification which includes achieving targeted self-sufficiency in agriculture produce and increasing private sector investments.

“The third is infrastructure development which includes the completion of several NIPPs, the Lagos -Calabar coastal railway, among others. Oil and gas reform is the fourth one and it includes privatisation of refineries and ensuring gas availability to power the plants. The ease of doing business is the fifth. The last is the social investment meant to assuage unemployment pains, development of human capacity, improve school enrolment”, he said.

The vice president’s spokesman also denied reports claiming that illegal recruitments were going on in some government agencies, such as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

“Some of these reports are inaccurate. What we heard is that government is working to ensure that we develop going forward in a more transparent process. We are committed in going forward to ensure that some of these procedures are refined, fine-tuned and made to become more transparent”, Akande said.