Nigeria’s GDP growth excites FEC

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The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has received the report on results of the third quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and other indicators of the performance of the Nigerian economy.

Hajia Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, after the FEC meeting on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa, said the GDP recorded significant growth.

She said that report released by the National Bureau of Statistics the previous week, indicated that Nigeria’s GDP, in the first quarter of 2019, grew by 2.38 per cent in comparison 1.18 per cent for 2018.

“And also the growth in 2019 has shown to be much stronger every quarter leading to cumulative growth of 2.17 per cent by the end of the third quarter.

“This is significantly higher than the growth in the third quarter of 2018 which was 1.73 per cent; clearly, our economy is on track to a much better performance in 2019 than it was in 2018.

“And to further emphasis on this growth, we reported to council that a total of 34 out of 46 economic activities actually grew in this third quarter compared to last year where only 15 major activities showed growth in the corresponding period in 2018.

“The third quarter growth is driven largely by the growth in the oil sector which grew by 6.47 per cent and also that non oil sector itself grew; coal mining has been reported as the sector that has driven the most growth in the non-oil sector.

“Also the road transport sector, air transport sector, telecommunication, as well as cement production, rail transport as well as pipelines also contributed significantly; construction and agriculture also made significant contribution.’’

Ahmed said that the agricultural sector in particular grew at the rate of 2.28 per cent compared to the same quarter of 2018, which was 1.91 per cent.

She described as encouraging, the performance of the agricultural sector.

The minister said that the service sector was the slowest in terms of growth as it grew at the rate of 1.87 per cent in the third quarter while it is expected to pick up in the fourth quarter of 2019.

“So, for the first three quarters of 2019, capital importation cumulatively, what came in three quarters of 2019, is 19.58 billion dollars.

“This is 34 per cent higher than the amount that came into the country in the corresponding three quarters of 2018.

`When you compare the three quarters of 2019 to the three quarters of 2018, it is a very much improved performance,’’ she said.

Ahmed, who fielded questions from State House correspondents, said that closure of Nigeria’s border was temporary.

She said that Nigeria had advanced in its discussions with its neighbours over the border closure.

According to her, there is an agreement that each party will respect the protocols they all committed to and then the borders will be opened again.

The minister said that what the Federal Government was doing was important for the nations’ economy.

“We signed up to the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) agreement; we have to make sure that we put in place checks to make sure that our economy will not be overrun as a result of the coming into effect of the ACFTA.

“That is why we have this border closure to return to the discipline of respecting the protocols that we all are committed to,’’ she said.

On inflation, she said that headline inflation declined for several months before an uptake in the last two months.

The minister said that headline inflation was at about 11:61 per cent as at the end of October.

She said that the slight increase in inflation between September and October was due to food inflation.

“The food inflation we are ascribing to prices of cereals, rice and fish.

“The increase is just about two basis point; remember there was a time inflation was nine per cent and it grew to about 18 per cent in Jan. 2017 when we were in recession.

“The relationship between inflation, interest rates and growth is managed by the monetary authorities and its a management that is tracked on a regular basis.”

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