World Bank Scores Nigeria High on Economic Reforms


November 01, 2006/independent



The ongoing economic reform programme of the Federal Government has been praised by the World Bank. The bank, after a meeting with members of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Economic Management Team, expressed satisfaction with the progress made so far.

An excited Paul Wolfowitz, the president of the World Bank, noted during the meeting held on Wednesday October 25 at the World Bank’s Country Office in Abuja that the Nigerian economy had turned the corner. The meeting via video conference and held at the instance of the bank, was organised to allow the team, led by the Finance Minister, Mrs. Nenadi Usman, update the board of the Bank on the reform process.

Although Wolfowitz had met the President’s economic team during his visits to Nigeria , other members of Bank’s board were keen to obtain a first-hand account of Nigeria ’s reforms, this was the first time in which such a videoconference had been organized between the Executive Board of the World Bank, and a country government. Mr. Mathias Sinamenye, The Executive Director in charge of Africa Group I (AFGI) Constituency of the World Bank in the Headquarters in Washington DC , USA anchored the discussions.

Members of the Economic Team took turn to provide brief summaries of the recent reforms, following which Wolfowitz, noted that the board was highly impressed by the achievements recorded under the ongoing economic reform.

He endorsed the work of the President’s economic team, and noted that the Bank was hoping that ongoing reforms would continue after May 2007 when a new civilian administration is expected to take over from President Obasanjo.

In his comments, President Wolfowitz praised the 7.6 per cent annual GDP growth achieved in the last three years, adding that to make real impact on development and make a dent on poverty, the Nigerian economy must grow at similar rate over a sustained period of 10 years or more.

He praised the Economic Team for its efforts so far and promised to support the Team and Nigeria whenever the Bank was called upon to do so, stressing that Nigeria was a very important member of the international community and that any positive thing happening would have a positive impact on the Continent.

While stressing that one of the cardinal Article of Faith of the World Bank was its non-interference principle, Wolfowitz said it was still important to stress the need for continuity of the reforms programmes especially after May 2007. He observed that the excellent presentation by the Economic Team was a good example of the depth of talents and Capacity available in Nigeria but that the Bank was willing to help grow capacity if requested to do so. The World Bank President observed that part of the challenges of the Nigeria was overcoming the reputation of the past and that only facts as presented by the team could support the message.

In other comments the Executive Director for Switzerland , Pietro Veglio, who also has the responsibility for seven other countries, stressed the importance of getting Reforms Bills being proposed by the Federal Government into passage before the elections of 2007. Also important, according to him is helping the States Government to reform their expenditure programmes since they receive and control up to 50 per cent of the Federation Accounts Allocation.

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