Tinubu Asserts that Endless Budget Deficits are not a Problem in Economic Summit Group Dialogue

Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate for the All Progressives Congress (APC), presented his economic plan for the organized private sector to the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) in Lagos. He also defended the heavily criticized endless budget deficits under the Buhari administration. Under the APC federal government, the budget deficit rose from N2.41 trillion in 2016 to N11.34 trillion in 2023. Tinubu disagreed with the argument that fiscal deficits by the federal government are inherently bad. He stated, “All governments, especially in this era of fiat currency, run on budget deficits. This is an inherent part of modern governance. The most powerful and wealthiest governments run deficits, as do the poorest nations.”

Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), shared his comprehensive economic plan for the organized private sector with the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) in Lagos. He also defended the heavily criticized endless budget deficits under the Buhari administration, stating “A budget deficit is not necessarily bad. Look at the Japanese example with high government borrowing and low inflation. The real issue is whether deficit spending is productive or not. Unproductive deficit spending is a compound negative, especially if backed by excessive borrowing of foreign currency. This is not classroom economics but it is the lesson of the real economic history of nations.” He noted that before economic recovery can be achieved, the nation must be secured. He said, “First, to achieve the economy we seek, we must resolve the pressing security issues. No nation can flourish with terrorists and kidnappers in their midst.” The interaction provided an opportunity for Tinubu to present his plans to another group of stakeholders, similar to the town hall meetings he has been holding across the country.

During the dialogue with the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), emphasized the importance of the private sector and his administration’s readiness to partner with them. He said, “My core belief is that the private sector must be the prime driver of economic progress. However, the government establishes the framework within which the private sector must operate. If that framework is sound, the private sector will flourish. If the framework is frail or incomplete, then the private sector will struggle.” He added that his administration, upon taking office, would immediately address fiscal, monetary, and trade reforms to effectively increase domestic production, curb imported inflation, and ensure better macroeconomic stability by accelerating inclusive growth and job creation across Nigeria.

He outlined principles to guide their plans and policies, such as addressing inflation, eliminating petrol subsidies, and implementing monetary policy. He rejected the conventional approach of raising interest rates and shrinking the economy to combat inflation, stating that supply-induced inflation requires a different solution. He proposed immediately ending the PMS subsidy, arguing that it is no longer a public good, and redirecting the funds towards public infrastructure, transportation, affordable housing, education, and healthcare, as well as strengthening social safety nets for the most disadvantaged to prevent security challenges.

He emphasized that fiscal policy, rather than monetary policy, would be the primary driver of economic growth. He also stated that tying budgets to dollar-denominated oil revenues is outdated and restrictive, hindering growth. He outlined plans for his administration’s budgeting to focus on increasing the real annual growth rate above 10% and reducing unemployment, in order to double the economy in seven years. Additionally, he plans to expand the manufacturing base to provide jobs and create affordable goods for the population. He also highlighted the importance of investing in agriculture to support industries and promote commodity exchanges that ensure fair pricing for produce.

He plans to focus on using technology and expertise to increase agricultural yields and create opportunities for agribusinesses to participate in regional and global value chains. He also plans to accelerate the implementation of an infrastructure master plan by adopting successful financing structures and constructing transportation infrastructure such as seaports, airports, and rail and water linkages to support economic growth. He emphasized the importance of addressing energy supply and improving the environment for private investment in the sector by decentralizing transmission and implementing cost-reflective tariffs. He also acknowledged that restrictions on imports and foreign exchange have led to smuggling, reduced revenues, and higher costs for businesses, and plans to improve transparency by moving towards a unified exchange rate and relaxing trade and capital control policies to attract domestic and foreign investment.

“Unifying the Naira exchange rate and increasing transparency will be a top priority for my administration,” Tinubu stated. He also promised to focus on the creative sector as an opportunity to create millions of jobs annually. He plans to create a legal environment that attracts private investment, addresses piracy and copyright issues, and supports the development of necessary infrastructure for the creative sector. He also emphasized the importance of borrowing for productive economic activity and implementing fiscal and tax reforms, curbing corruption, and streamlining bureaucracy to reduce the cost of governance. He emphasized the importance of boosting non-oil revenues and using technology to drive reform implementation as key elements of his revenue mobilization strategy.

Source: ThisDay News

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