FG plans to reduce import bill to N8.79tr in three years

Barring any last minute change in plans, the Federal Government is targeting to reduce the amount which the country spent on the importation of various items into the country by N1.05trillion within the next three years.

This is part of the proposal that would be made by the Federal Government when the Medium Term Expenditure Framework is finally submitted to the National Assembly in October.

The MTEF provides the basis for annual budget planning and consist of a macroeconomic framework that indicates fiscal targets, estimates, revenues and expenditure, including government financial obligations in the medium term.

The document, prepared by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, also set out the underlying assumptions for these projections, provide an evaluation and analysis of the previous budget and present an overview of consolidated debt and potential fiscal risks.

Investigations by our correspondent in Abuja revealed that the government is targeting to reduce the level of importation into the country from an estimated amount of N9.85trillion in 2016 to N8.79trillion by the end of 2019.

Statistics from the Central Bank of Nigeria showed that four items – rice, wheat, fish and sugar accounts for the highest amount of food imports into the country.

About N3.4trillion is being spent importing these food items annually.

According to the strategy of the government, the amount spent on importation is expected to increase to N9.9trillion next year owing to the slow economic recovery.

However, after the recovery, it is projected that the country would begin to see a significant reduction in the level of importation from N9.9trillion in 2017 to N9.34trillion and N8.79trillion in 2018 and 2019 fiscal periods respectively.

Speaking on the government’s strategy towards diversifying the economy as well as reducing the level of import, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma said more attention would be focused on agriculture, solid minerals, manufacturing as well as other areas where the country had comparative advantage.

He said, “Government’s fiscal strategy for 2017 to 2019 builds on the framework off the 2016-2020 Medium Term Development Plan.

“It is designed to reflate the economy out of recession to a sustainable and inclusive growth path.

“Government will support rapid development of Small and Medium Enterprises through increased funding and focus on value chain that will generate wealth and improve sufficiency.”

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