Structural Reforms, Institution Building Panacea to Nigeria’s Economy – Okonjo Iwealla.

Nigeria’s Former Coordinating Minister for the Economy Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has enumerated how the government of a developing country can attain sustained development. Speaking in a recent interview, the ex Finance Minister identified structural reforms, institution building and the need to achieve macro-stability as the requirements to achieve sustainable development in any nation. She stressed that any policy maker that wants to sustain development, and leave a lasting impact, really needs to put in systems, processes, and institutions that would drive development going forward. Responding to a question on how the immediate past government she worked under was able to drive growth, she said they looked at “the missing pieces,” and resolved that in order to drive Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), “you need to diversify your economy away from one resource, you need to strengthen your revenue management framework, you need to present leakages.

“We put into place financial management systems with biometrics that really began to build a framework that would take us away from cash management with the problems of corruption and leakages to electronic management systems for finance. “The second thing we tried to do or beginning to do was some of the structural reforms that would be necessary for the economy. We tried to look at what were the biggest sources of fiscal drain, we looked at enterprises, and we looked at those places in the economy where we needed to tackle issues that could unleash private sector investment.” She explained that the Development Bank of Nigeria was established to support operators of small and medium scale enterprise (SMEs) so that they would be able to grow. “This is another trend that is critically important: how do you foster growth within an economy, how do you help informal enterprises to grow and create more jobs, because often it’s not the huge businesses that create the most jobs. So, building an institution that can begin to plug the gap and be sustainable – the same as many countries have done: the German’s have KfW, the American’s have the Small Business Administration.

“We don’t have these kind of things in our countries, and because we’re missing these institutions that means we continue to struggle. So the second lesson that I’d say we learned that is important for development is to really look for what is missing institutionally from your economic landscape, and try to put them in, because without those institutions built, you will not be able to develop. And then undertake the right structural reforms in those regulatory reforms, freeing up space for business that will enable your private investment to take place, because the government create the jobs needed,” she added.

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