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Atiku defends reforms, says economy on course

Posted by From Mike Osunde and Gbenga Agbana, Benin on 2005/01/28 | Views: 261 |

Atiku defends reforms, says economy on course

VICE-President Atiku Abubakar, yesterday justified the economic reforms of the Federal Government, saying they had been largely responsible for the all-time high level of the country's foreign reserve, which stood at $18.5 billion as at January this year.

VICE-President Atiku Abubakar, yesterday justified the economic reforms of the Federal Government, saying they had been largely responsible for the all-time high level of the country's foreign reserve, which stood at $18.5 billion as at January this year.

The reforms, the Vice-President also added, were responsible for the relatively stable exchange rate as well as keeping down the inflation rate in the economy.

Speaking yesterday before commissioning the new trading floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange in Benin, the Edo State capital, Atiku took a swipe at critics of the economic reforms, insisting that whatever anyone would say about them, the economy was on course.

He declared: "Whatever you may think about our economic reforms, today, the Nigerian foreign reserve, as at January, this month, stands at $18.5 billion.

"This is the largest ever in the history of this country. Our exchange rate has been stable since last year, and in fact, we have even performed better than we had forecast as far as the exchange rate is concerned."
He continued: "So also is our inflation rate. It has been hovering between 10 and 11 per cent. And these are indications that our economic reforms are on course."
The Vice-President, who identified the capital market as a veritable tool in a nation's economy, particularly praised the role of the Nigerian Stock Exchange in Nigeria's economic and the government's economic reforms.

According to him, the Stock Exchange's involvement in the reforms is a demonstration of the goodwill the reform programme enjoys in the private sector.

He said the government was committed to encouraging the development of the capital market and the private sector because they were critical to the success of the reforms.

Explaining that this government's position was responsible for its paradigm shift that had placed the private sector on the driver's seat of the economy, Atiku said the government was refocusing on the public sector to make it concentrate on those aspects of economic management that it could best carry out. He noted that the reforms and other policies were creating a conducive atmosphere for private enterprises to thrive in the country.

"We hope that efficient markets will be created and that a market-based economic strategy and culture would take root in our country" because, according to the Vice-President, "we are convinced that the market, rather than administrative directives, is better instrument for managing a modern economy."
On the government's privatisation drive, the Vice-President said it was also central to the government's reforms, and urged the Stock Exchange to support government in what he described as the "more difficult phase of our privatisation exercise involving such public enterprises as NEPA, NITEL, the petrochemical plants and the ports."
He added that the it was government's hope that the programme would go a long way in deepening the nation's capital market, pointing out that by divesting government interest from public enterprises, "we have shown clearly our commitment to broadening the space for private capital in this country."
The new trading floor housed in the state's new library building complex on Sapele road, Benin, will be the second largest outside Lagos, according to the Director-General of the NSE, Dr. Ndi Okereke Onyuike.

She said to create awareness of the new trading floor, the NSE would be conducting workshops in the catchment areas.

In his speech, the state governor, Chief Lucky Igbinedion, said the trading floor was as a result of the unprecedented activities recorded in the stock market last year.

He said the state stood to benefit from this upswing and would exert a multiplier effect on the economy of the state.

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