The Chief Executive Officer, Economic Associates, Mr. Ayo Teriba, has argued that creating a body for generating a central view of the trend and outlook of key variables in the economy will support the growth of the country’s growth.
Teriba stated this in a report titled: “A Closer Look at Nigeria’s Economic Performance,” obtained yesterday.
He expressed concern that presently, the only time the president was obliged to speak about the economy was when he proposed the annual appropriation bill to the National Assembly towards the end of each year.
However, the report showed that the Nigerian economy had grown rapidly in the last 13 years.
In particular, it showed that Nigeria’s nominal GDP doubled from N20 trillion in 2007 to N40 trillion in 2012. Also, it stated that oil and gas output rose from N7.5 trillion in 2007 to 15 trillion in 2012 while non-oil GDP rose from N12.5 trillion in 2007 to N25 trillion in 2012.
According to Teriba: “There is a need for Nigeria as a nation to find another way of annually engaging the President and the National Assembly (and State Governors and State Houses of Assembly) solely on the performance of the economy, apart from budget; by instituting an annual ‘State of the Economy’ address to a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives at the beginning of each year for example.
“Such a practice will oblige the President to provide an annual written articulation of his thinking about where the economy is coming from, where it roughly is, and where it is heading to.
“Debates about economic policies in parliament, National Economic Council and Federal Executive Council will be better informed, economic legislations will become more prolific and better focused, while economic performance will be easier to gauge and guide. Even the general public will be better placed to provide constructive inputs into the formulation of the president and National Assembly’s thinking about the evolution and outlook of the economy.”
This, according to Teriba had been the practice since the enactment of the Employment Act (1946) in the United States where the President relies on the three-member Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), with a secretariat of another two dozen economists within the Executive Office of the President, to help him put together his annual ‘Economic Report of the President’.
He also pointed out that in the US, the CEA also advises the president on economic policy and provides much of the objective empirical research for the White House.
“The CEA has become an incubator for new ideas and a breeding ground for future leaders of many vital economic policy agencies in the US. The current nominee for the position of chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Janet Yellen, the current chairman, Ben Bernanke, and his predecessor, Alan Greenspan, have all previously chaired the CEA. “The CEA does not deal with the budget as the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the largest office within the Executive Office of the President, assists the president to prepare the budget and also measures the quality of agency programmes, policies, and procedures and to see if they comply with the president's policies. It is important to note that the CEA and the OMB do not implement policies,” he added.
The economist therefore urged the National Assembly in Nigeria to play a stronger role in pushing for improved economic performance in the country, saying that the role of the legislature in bringing about stronger economic performance was vital.