Saturday, 9 January 2016

FUNDING 2016 BUDGET: DR. OKECHUKWU ENELAMAH ON TRIAL

Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, Minister of Industry, Trade & Investment
In the event there still is a shred of doubt, in any quarter, as regards the extent of damage dwindling price of crude oil has done to our economy, the fine details of the N6.1 trillion budget being proposed by the Federal Government have knocked it off. Proceeds from oil accounted for 47.5 per cent of the 2015 budget whilst the projection for 2016 limits oil revenue contribution to the fiscal year to 18.6 per cent.

The ambitious 2016 budget proposal also aims at, among other things, jerking up capital expenditure from the 16 per cent it was pegged at in the 2015 budget to 30 per cent – which is about N1.6 trillion

However, by the first half of December 2015, Nigeria’s external reserve had shrunken to $29.6 billion – the lowest in five months. Earlier, industrial production had declined at a slower 0.13 per cent in the third quarter as against the –3.31 per cent it was in second quarter. In the same penultimate quarter, manufacturing and construction sectors fell by 1.75 per cent and 0.11 per cent respectively. How can this trend be reversed? Yet, Federal Government is optimistic that with the combined effort of oil revenues, import duties, taxes, recoveries from looted funds and sundry revenue sources, it will be able to set the economy on a path of competitiveness and sustainable prosperity.

Drastic reduction in recurrent expenditure, significant increase in capital vote, as well as acceleration of infrastructural development and inclusive growth are by no means less critical to the economic diversification aspiration of the Federal Government, as envisaged in the 2016 budget estimate.

The Federal Government sure has fantastic plans for the 2016 fiscal year. The challenge therein is how to navigate projected revenue and actual revenue to a point of equilibrium within the prevailing fluid economic environment. This is where the interventionist role of Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) becomes imperative. Given the current economic outlook, the task of attaining a convergence of budget estimates and national earnings rests on Federal Government’s economic team, with FMITI as a key driver.

When the chips are down, the ability of the ministry to bolster international trade, attract foreign direct investments (FDIs) and guarantee favourable balance of payment will go a long way in ensuring that our embattled economy does not get stranded in the 2016 fiscal cruise.

Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, the Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) is one man no one should envy. Just as he found the flexibility to migrate from his medical profession to accounting and financial analysis, in both of which he has since chartered, Nigerians are eager to see him transmute to a ‘miracle worker.’

Will Dr. Enelamah for instance, recognise the draft National Code of Corporate Governance (NCCG) as a national emergency and speedily direct Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRN) to treat accordingly? What are his plans for Nigeria Investment Promotion Council (NIPC)? Will he take urgent steps to reinvigorate Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC)? Granted he had successfully chased and attracted investors’ funds in the past as a corporate player, but how does he intend to manage the highly probable skepticism of prospective investors as a result of the noisy revelations as pertains to the depth of rot inherited by the present government? What are his counter public relations strategies, as intending investors are likely to err on the side of caution by sitting on their vaults pending the conclusion of the purge?

Will the honourable minister critically evaluate the performance of Bank of Industry (BOI), so as to be certain there is no more room for improvement? What is his blueprint on how to relocate the tourism sector, in collaboration with Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), from the realm of leisure to the realm of business and investment?

Similarly, Nigerians think SMEDAN can do better – does he agree? What kind of synergistic relationship is his ministry going to cultivate with Federal Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Ministry of Solid Minerals and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for harmony in policy implementation? Will FMITI, under Dr. Enelamah’s watch, find the presence of mind to ensure that the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) leaves no stone unturned in getting corporations and businesses to comply, in full, with extant laws, for the overall well-being of our business community and international competitiveness?

What is Enelamah’s strategy for seducing investors the world over and retaining them? What trade and investment Ace Cards has he got up his sleeve to contend with the projected N2 trillion budget deficit in the 2016 fiscal year? All in all, what are his prescriptions for the parts of our economy that are under the weather? With the peculiar circumstance, and expressed broad objectives of the 2016 budget proposal, the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment is impliedly on trial. (Source: Guardian)