Despite increase in oil price, we’ll not lose focus on economic diversification — minister

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Minister-Of-Finance-Zainab-Ahmed-
Minister of Finance Zainab Ahmed

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed says the Federal Government will not lose focus on diversifying the economy from oil to other sustainable sectors like agriculture.

Ahmed said this at the ongoing 24th Nigerian Economic Summit on Tuesday in Abuja.

Ahmed, who spoke on the topic; “Sustainable Economic Opportunities’’ said despite the rise in crude oil price at the international market, government was committed to diversifying the economy by growing agriculture and other sectors.

“We are not shifting away our attention from diversifying the economy, from growing agriculture, mining, as well as ensuring that the right infrastructure is put in place to support businesses.

“What happens in the oil industry is not within our control, the price may go up today and it could go low again, and also it is predisposed to destruction.

“So what happens if production  goes down,  so we are not losing  sight of the fact  that we need to stay and focus on growing  other sectors of the economy,’’ he said.

She stressed the need to shift attention away from oil and gas, adding that government  was  investing  revenues from oil  into other sectors of the economy  that were more sustainable.

The minister also said government in its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), had mapped out some clear target on what it planned to achieve in the economy.

“Our target is to attain 10,000 Mega Watts, MW, electricity by the year 2020, and we started up with 3,500 MWs and we have 7, 200 MWs, so, we are on target and we will surpass the target that we have set,’’ she said.

Ahmed noted that government had plans to concession the four major airports in the country, adding that construction of some major road projects across the country were also on going.

The minister said government was also looking at how to bring in private capital financing to match its funding to grow other sectors of the economy.

“We have a situation where our economy has begun to go back on the part of growth, but also exposed to fragility by external shocks.

“We also have this growing unemployment rate that is really a threat to all of us in the country.

“We have on the  other hand a very large population  of  youths that  are very  active and enterprising  and  that itself is a  huge  advantage .

“This is because the most important resource we have are actually  the  people, our youths   and what we have to do as policy makers is to engage and make the youth to be productive.’’

She advised government at all levels to engage the private sector to provide electricity and create other opportunities to engage the youth meaningfully.

Ahmed added that the government was committed at creating opportunities for growth and development.

NAN