Experts set 20,000mw of power, PIB passage targets for Buhari

Ahead of the May 29 date for President-elect, Gen Muhammadu Buhari to assume office, experts want his administration to immediately fix infrastructure that are critical to the wellbeing of the people and development of the economy.

According to analysts at a Lagos-based investment banking group- Afrinvest West Africa Limited, the new government must be aware of the huge challenges it must confront on assuming office, particularly those of national security, job creation, agriculture, food security and industrialisation.

While they called for a speedy passage of the much-delayed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to address local content issues; they charged the incoming administration to urgent raise electricity generation, transmission and distribution capacity from between 5,000 and 6,000 currently, to at least 20,000 mega watts within four years.

Buhari and Osibanjo

Thereafter, they want government to increase it further “to 50,000mw with a view to achieving 24 hours for seven days a way uninterrupted power supply within 10 years, while simultaneously ensuring development of sustainable/renewable energy, construction of 3,000km of superhighway lines- one-third to be completed by 2019 via a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.”

According to the report titled “Beyond the change chorus,” made available to **Daily Independent** at the weekend, the Afrinvest analysts- Ayodeji Ebo, Robert Omotunde and Olawale Olusi, also urged the President-elect to target 15 per cent of annual budget to education, while making substantial investments in training quality teachers at all levels. The also noted the need to ensure improvement in quality of services offered by Federal Government owned hospitals to world class standard within five years by investing in such technology as telemedicine.

The report warned that Nigeria’s macroeconomic indicators would remain weak, as oil price is expected to trade below $60 per barrel in the near to medium term, while exchange rate stabilises to N200/$, with consequences on inflation at an estimated average of 9.5 per cent this year.

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“The depleting rate of the external reserves (currently at $29.8 billion and dipped 13.6 per cent year-to-date) may taper as we expect increased foreign portfolio (inflow) in the near term. The eventual stop of the revenue leakages in the oil and gas space before the end of the year would increase the accretion of the external reserves,” the report added.

Meanwhile, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Sunday said the outlook for many macroeconomic indicators of Nigeria is pale as Gen Buhari prepares to assume office, especially with foreign reserves dropping below $30 billion, amid persistent pressure on the Naira’s exchange rate.

To mitigate the anxiety and uncertainty that has so far characterised the business environment in the short-run, LCCI, in its statement, urged the incoming government to address the high cost of doing business and low productivity.

The statement quoted its President, Remi Bello, as blaming a combination of macroeconomic factors, institutional challenges and structural issues in the country.

Bello reaffirmed the council’s position on strategic agenda for Gen Buhari that would turn the nation’s economy around in the short run, while blocking all fiscal leakages and waste in government.

Bello, urged the President-elect “to put in place policy measures that would ensure the blocking of all fiscal leakages and wastes in government, especially in respect of the management of petroleum products subsidy, immediate review of JTF activities in the Niger Delta area where revenue is being lost daily due to oil theft, pension funds, import duty waivers, ghost workers in the MDAs, Service Wide Votes and crude oil theft.

“President-elect need to also ensure prioritisation of government expenditure to boost investments in critical infrastructure as the challenge of high cost of governance, collapse of the rail system, poor power supply demands urgent attention”, he added.

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While calling on Gen Buhari to sustain the momentum of the war on terrorism and insurgency in parts of the country, Bello emphasized the needs for performance audit of key regulatory institutions whose activities impact on the private sector.

“This is necessary to ensure that these institutions deliver the desired value to the private sector and economy at large”, he said.

He also urged government to ensure accelerated reforms of the oil and gas sector, to enable it “attract more private investments in both the upstream and downstream segments of the sector.  This would save the economy the current huge foreign exchange used for importation of petroleum products as well as improve the scope and depth of financial intermediation for the benefit of all investors in the economy irrespective of size”.

Bello called a review of guidelines for accessing intervention funds to make it less stringent and ensure a level playing field for all investors across all sectors with regard to import tariffs, funding opportunities, tax incentives.

“This would in the short run ensure the sustainability of selected policies and programmes of the present administration which currently offer value to the economy as well as ensure robust consultation with the Private Sector bodies for inputs into policy formulation processes”, he added.

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