Tuesday, June 14, 2016

President Buhari says Nigeria must 'radically' boost exports

Nigeria must “radically” increase its exports to ease shortages of foreign exchange in the oil-dependent West African nation, President Muhammadu Buhari said.

“In a world of lower oil prices and dollar revenues, the only sustainable path is to reduce Nigerians’ over-reliance on imports,” Buhari, 73, who came to power in May 2015, wrote in an opinion piece published in the Wall Street Journal on Monday. “We must rebalance our economy by empowering entrepreneurs and producers, big and small, to create more of what their fellow Nigerians demand.”

The government will help local businesses by encouraging more investment in infrastructure and lowering taxes on small companies, he said. It will also “eliminate bureaucracy to bring the informal economy out of the shadows.” The central bank will introduce a more flexible foreign-exchange policy, Buhari wrote, without giving any details of plans first announced by Governor Godwin Emefiele on May 24.

Africa’s largest economy has been battered by the fall in oil prices since mid-2014 and a drop in production this year to an almost three-decade low as militants bomb crude and gas pipelines. The economy contracted in the first quarter for the first time since 2004 and a recession is imminent, according to the central bank. Inflation accelerated to 15.6 percent in May, the highest rate since early 2010, the national statistics office said on Tuesday.

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