Monday, October 19th,2015 firstname.lastname@example.org
The foremost economic policy think-thank group, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group(NESG) reached a landmark in its role at coordinating strategic discussions between the public and private sector, towards policy roadmaps.
It achieved 2 decades and a year in consistently pushing for remarkable reforms that has opened up the socio-economic space.
To mark its 21st edition, the NESG focused on the theme ‘Tough Choices: Achieving competitiveness through inclusive growth & sustainability’, which was coming at a challenging time in Nigeria’s political-economic sphere as it grapples with high inflation(9.4%), tight interest rate (13%), and a slow GDP growth index(2.35%).
This have all come with the decline in the international crude oil price which is pegged at $48.67, adversely affecting the revenue of the Federal, State and Local governments.
In summary, it leaves the government voted on the populist mandate of change, with no other choice but to take tough decisions.
Understanding this the NESG hosted the summit for three days(October 13th-15th), and according to the Chairman Mr Kyari Bukar, was going to be a departure from the usual sector-focused structure.
It brought together policy makers, economists, bankers, corporate leaders, investors, financial analysts and other critical stakeholders in the economy.
From the just concluded summit, we bring from the roundtable with the Vice-President on Reforming Public Institutions’ 7 takeaways that should inform how public policies will shape the economy in the future.
1.Concept of Zero-Sum Budgeting
In his keynote on ‘reforming the public institutions to guarantee competitiveness’ amidst the tough choices ahead Vice-President Prof Yemi Osinbajo hinted stakeholders of the intention of the government to adopt the ‘Zero-sum’ budgeting, which he believed will shape the operations of the Ministries and Departmental Agencies. Osinbajo also noted that this will increase transparency and accountability in the government.
Zero-sum budget means starting from the scratch in the area of accounting for expenditure, to justify new allocation, and this process will transform the landscape of public finance in Nigeria, indicating a no-longer-business as usual approach .
2.The Georgian Model
Former Prime Minister of Georgia Mr Nika Gilauri, who was the keynote speaker at the #NES21 shared the story of how his country was able to transform a static public service, to a viable one. The key processes and strategies deployed include the following; restructuring that led to function-based MDAs, ensuring that allocation to ministries, were based on clearly articulating objectives, improving the salary structure, simplifying processes in the civil service, introduction of performance bonus to incentivize the civil servants and strong punitive measures for corruption.
3. Restructuring the Civil service
At the roundtable panel session with the Vice-President, former federal Minister Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili harped on the need for top-level political commitment, sanctions & preventive measures for corrupt practices which will guarantee transparency.
4. Human Capacity development
Vice-President Prof Yemi Osinbajo and Head of Service Alh Kifasi both affirmed that one of the key focus of the public sector reforms, will be human capacity development. They both believe this will drive efficieny, resourcefulness and a fully equipped civil service ready to serve the nation.
5.Reviewing the Operator/Regulator mode
Mr Konyinsola Ajayi (SAN) one of Nigeria’s notable lawyers was tactical in his intervention at the roundtable with the Vice-President. He called for a review of MDAs that play the operator/regulator role, which according to him needs to be changed.
6.Private sector engagement is key
For the President of the National Chamber of Commerce Indstries,Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) Mr Bassey Edem the government needs to carry the private sector along in its budgeting process and other critical policies. Edem said it was important also for the government to be continously carry out reforms, but with the input of the Organized Private Sector.
7.PPP is vital
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and Dr Obiageli Ezekwezili alluded to the fact that a public-private sector collaboration is vital for achieving wider reforms that will transform the economy.
This will demand that even as the public sector is going through the required reforms, the private sector must support every policy thrust that is geared towards guaranteeing accountability and transparency.
The public sector in every nation, plays a key role in ensuring the policy framework of government is implemented seamlessly, with a rich and incisive discourse on reforming the public institutions to achieve competitveness; Nigeria can experience transformation with strong political will.
In the words of Mr Nika Gilauri former PM of Georgia, ‘ If Georgia with all its challenges, could achieve transformation of its institutions through painstaking reforms,Nigeria can do same with focus and commitment’.
Indeed, the road to economic sustainability, is not an easy path but a resolute government ready to make tough choices, will definitely get there.