Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Reps, Nyako, NLC dismiss new GDP figures

Reactions have continued to trail the rebasing of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, which put the 2013 figures at $509.9bn.
While the House of Representatives, Nigeria Labour Congress and the Civil Society Legislative and Advocacy Centre, as well as the Adamawa State Governor, Murtala Nyako, were of the opinion that there was nothing to celebrate over the higher GDP figure, which ranks the Nigerian economy ahead of South Africa’s as the biggest on the continent, the Senate said it was a welcome development.
 The House said much as the rebased GDP was commendable, it must translate into employment opportunities for the army of unemployed youths in the country.
It also noted that the new GDP figure should help in fixing the energy crisis in the country.
The Deputy House Majority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, said, “These are signs that the economy is being better managed.  However, it must translate into employment opportunities for our army of youths.
 “We should also be able to fix our energy crisis. Overall, there is a sign of hope that we can say things are picking up.”
The NLC said it was not swayed by the outcome of the rebased.
The Acting President, NLC, Mr. Promise Adewusi, said in a statement in Abuja that the figure, which was provided by the National Bureau of Statistics and other partners on Sunday, was not convincing.
He argued that Nigeria, being Africa’s biggest economy, ought to make no news if vital   statistics such as population and natural resources, among others, were to form the basis of assumptions for the assessment.
According to the statement, an improved GDP will only make meaning to the organised labour if it translates into improved living standards for the ordinary Nigerians.
Adewusi said, “Living conditions in the past couple of years have been progressively nose-diving and pathetic. Similarly, economic growth without jobs and food on the table means nothing in realty. The unemployment figures are frightening.
“We have found it necessary to warn time without number that the army of unemployed youths constitutes a veritable army of the disparate, the desperate and the angry, and that government should urgently address the problem.
“So far, nothing has illustrated this fear better than the recent Immigration recruitment exercise tragedy. We, therefore, do not need any economist or diviner to tell us that life has improved, because it has not.
 “A GDP could not be said to have significantly improved if our industries are virtually shut and the operating environment increasingly hostile.
“The government should worry that the performance index of industries dropped from 46.08 per cent to 25.81 per cent, while the service industry more than doubled to 50 per cent from 23.03 per cent. This certainly represents a significant change in the economy, a negative change that points to consumption to the exclusion of production.
“As we commend the government for achieving the feat of economic rebasing, we urge it to ensure this figure translates into improved living conditions, job creation, revival of industries and improvement of internal and national security; for these will be the measurable indices and indicators of an enlarging and progressive economy.”
Nyako, on his part, said the rebasing of the nation’s GDP would have been better handled by a reputable international body like the World Bank and not an agency of the government.
The governor, who spoke through his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Ahmad Sajoh, said, “Our problem is, they are saying that our GDP has risen. Why did they not compare it with    what the World Bank said about the Nigerian economy?
“Why will the assessment for South Africa be based on the World Bank, while the assessment for Nigeria is based on what the Statistician-General of Nigeria says?
“I think comparisons are supposed to be made based on the same parameters for them to have any meaning.
“They are using the World Bank to assess the South African economy and they are using our Bureau of Statistics to assess our own, and they then compare and say ours is better.”
In a similar vein, the Executive Director, CISLAC, Mr. Auwal Musa-Rafsanjani, described the figures churned out by the NBS as fluke.
He said “This is all part of the grand deceit, which we are being subjected to; call it voodoo economics, you will not be wrong.
“We should take another look at this assessment because it looks like an attempt to give a mediocre impression that Nigeria is doing well while it is not.
“There is no job creation and no medicare. Nigerians are practically subsidising government because they provide their own power, water and security; yet, some statisticians are giving the world an impression that we are doing well.”
A northern delegate at the National Conference, Alhaji Muhammad Ibrahim,  said Nigeria’s rating as the biggest economy in Africa ahead of South Africa was merely an academic exercise.
Ibrahim noted that Nigeria could not be the biggest economy on the continent because the indices on the ground were not in favour of it attaining such a position.
He said, “How can Nigeria rank as the biggest economy in Africa when the unemployment rate is on the increase and when Nigerians are groaning in pains because of the excruciating economy that is in the hands of a few in the country?
“How can the country be rated as the largest economy when all its industries have virtually collapsed. These are indices that could have propelled the economy to grow. It’s just one of the economic theories of academics.”
But the Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Media, and Public Affairs, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, said the upper chamber had yet to discuss the GDP rebasing exercise.
He said, “The Senate has yet to discuss it but it is a good thing to be up to date on the basis for calculating the GDP.
“The country cannot continue to base its GDP on 20-year- old data.”
Similarly, the President, Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria, Mr. Kabir Mohammed, lauded the Federal Government over the rebasing of the nation’s GDP.
Mohammed spoke with State House correspondents shortly after leading the executive members of the institute on a courtesy visit to President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said he and his delegation specifically embarked on the visit to congratulate the President on the rebasing of the GDP as well as discuss issues of national importance.
Mohammed described the GDP rebasing as an opportunity for Nigeria to come up to date and take its rightful place among the comity of nations.
He said, “Using this basis, you can see that we have moved into our proper position. We have incorporated structures hitherto not considered.
“This is an opportunity for people who want to invest in the country to make the right decision and come in.”

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