By ADEWALE SANYAOLU
The Federal Government has said it is targeting a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 6.5 per cent for the year 2014.The GDP growth target was announced by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, at an interactive meeting with members of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) in Lagos yesterday.
She explained that though the Federal Government was still awaiting final figures for the 2013 GDP from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has already forecasted 7.2 per cent for the country, an indication that the global financial body was even more optimistic on Nigeria’s economy.
The former World Bank boss said the Federal Government was keen about the quality and pace of growth, which, she said, needs to improve, while maintaining that to effectively tackle poverty, growth rate should be at 8 to 9 per cent per annum.
She argued that the country must improve on its pace of growth beyond what it is at the moment, explaining that if all obstacles to growth are removed, the country will definitely witness tremendous progress in terms of development.
‘‘Imagine now that we are growing without the requisite infrastructure such as power and efficient transport. If we are to provide the infrastructure, can you imagine what will happen? We would have reached our target. But the quality of that growth matters. And that is what we are working on at the moment,’’ she said.
The Minister said the growth rate of the economy needs to create more jobs, adding that this informed the decision of the Federal Government to create more incentives for the real sector to continue to be the engine room of development through massive employment generation.
On monetary policy, the Minister disclosed that she met with the Acting Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mrs. Sarah Alade, at the weekend and both agreed that a tight monetary policy should be maintained.
She noted that both the ministry and CBN are committed to ensuring the use of appropriate monetary policy tools to ensure price and financial system stability, assuring that both organs of government will continue to intervene in the inter-bank foreign exchange market to ensure the stability of the exchange rate of the naira and preserve the value of the domestic currency.
Earlier in his remarks, the President of MAN, Mr. Kola Jamodu, thanked the President for graciously approving some of the recommendations put forward to him by the association, saying the gesture has further helped to reposition the real sector for better productivity.
Jamodu also said the sectoral waivers granted MAN remained a welcome development, while sounding a note of warning to members who individually go to seek for individual waivers to desist from such but rather channel their request through the various sectoral groups.