Tuesday, January 5, 2016 4:56 pm
President Muhammadu Buhari said Tuesday in Abuja that his administration will look inwards, enforce regulations to stop financial leakages and adopt global best practices in generating more revenue to mitigate the effect of dwindling oil prices on the Nigerian economy.
Receiving the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ms Christine Lagarde at the Presidential Villa, President Buhari said that his administration will also enforce greater discipline, probity and accountability in all revenue generating agencies of the Federal Government.
“We have just come out of budget discussions after many weeks of taking into consideration the many needs of the country, and the down turn of the economy with falling oil prices and the negative economic forecasts.
“We are working very hard and with the budget as our way forward, we will do our best to ensure that our country survives the current economic downturn.
“We have also told all heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government that on our watch, they will fully account for all funds that get into their coffers,” President Buhari told Ms Lagarde.
The President said that the Federal Government was reviewing its operational costs and had directed all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies to cut down on their overhead costs.
President Buhari said the Federal Government will welcome the technical support and expertise of the IMF for its plans to diversify the Nigerian economy and further unleash its growth potentials.
In her remarks, Ms Lagarde said that the IMF will be willing to assist the Federal Government in plugging revenue leakages, tracing stolen funds and restructuring its tax system.
She said that Nigeria had all the potentials to overcome the current economic challenge of falling commodity prices without resorting to the IMF for financial support.
After the talks with Buhari, and later with Vice president Yemi Osinbajo, Lagarde told media men that the IMF endorsed Buhari’s efforts to tackle corruption, while saying the country needed to reduce its reliance on oil, sharp falls in the price of which have crippled its economy.
Lagarde also said she was not in Nigeria to negotiate a loan.
She backed what she called Buhari’s “very important” fight against corruption and said the president’s reform push could have a positive impact across West Africa.
“His determination to bring about transparency and accountability at all levels of the economy were very important agenda items and very ambitious goals that need to be delivered upon,” Lagarde told reporters at the presidential villa in the capital Abuja.
Buhari was elected in March after a campaign in which he promised to clamp down on the endemic corruption that has left many in Africa’s biggest economy mired in poverty despite its enormous energy wealth.
He then announced a record budget for 2016, forecasting a doubling of the deficit to 2.2 trillion naira ($11 billion) and a tripling of capital expenditure intended to help the country adjust to the downturn in oil, which has lost around two-thirds of its value since mid-2014.
Lagarde said she and Buhari discussed the challenges posed by the falling oil price and the need for fiscal discipline.
“The short term fiscal situation… requires that revenue sources be identified in order to compensate the shortfall resulting from the oil price decline,” the IMF head added.