Austerity: We’re Ready For The Worst, Even If Oil Is $60 – Okonjo-Iweala

Despite what some have termed the looming doom hovering over the nation’s horizon as a result of the crash in oil price, Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Thursday assured of Nigeria’s readiness to weather the storm, should the price slide further at the international market.

Brent crude oil futures fell below $74 per barrel on Thursday after the group decided not to cut production, despite global oversupply.

Meanwhile, according to Reuters.com, Brent crude dropped to $73.80 a barrel, its lowest since August 2010, before paring losses to last trade down $3.71 on the day at $74.01.

Okonjo-Iweala, who spoke at the fourth Capital Market Committee (CMC) retreat organised by the Securities and Exchange Commission
(SEC) in Abuja, allayed fears about the fate of the nation’s economy in some quarters, assuring that several measures were on ground to mitigate the effects of the fall on the Nigerian economy.

But as if responding to the Minister’s comment, former Vice , Atiku Abubakar, warned that Nigeria is facing a potential economic crisis.

He therefore urged the Federal Government to change its ways.

The CME had affirmed that it would not be wise for the country to panic, because, “panic is not a strategy. We are managing the situation to keep the economy on a stable sustainable course and we will not listen to those who
want us to throw up our hands in despair and give up.

“Our scenario based approach to managing the impact of the oil price drop is proactive and comprehensive. Even if the price drops to $60, we are ready.

“The common man is a priority in our strategy for the fall in oil price. His interests are a priority. That’s why even in implementing cuts in capital budget for 2015, the areas that are of most benefit to the common man, critical infrastructural projects like the Ibadan expressway, the second Niger Bridge, rail and power projects etc, which will create jobs and enhance the comfort of our people, will go on.

“This pro-common man focus can also be seen in the safety nets which is a major priority for the President. The projection is for two to three million families across Nigeria will benefit from a conditional cash transfer scheme to encourage school attendance, improve health and nutrition, reduce infant and maternal mortality, among others,” she further assured.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said that is why the Federal Government is also focusing on improving value chain in agriculture, the number one source of job creation in the country.
Anything that affects the poor, the young and vulnerable, she continued, would be prioritised

Source: Daily Independent



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