Simeon Ebulu, Nduka Chiejina and Collins Nweze, Washington D.C
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday asked the Federal Government to fight corruption and ensure that the country’s wealth is used to serve the citizens.
IMF Managing Director, Mrs. Kristalina Georgieva, who stated this at the ongoing IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington D.C said Nigeria matters not only to the country, but to the entire African Continent.
She said: “When Nigeria does well, Africa does well. What we see however, is that economic recovery remains still too slow to reduce vulnerabilities, and most importantly, to reduce poverty in the country. What we experienced is some good thoughts around shaking up the economic policy now that a government is being constituted in Nigeria. We have been consistent in talking about three issues in Nigeria that needs to be tackled,” she said, stressing that Nigeria needs to fight corruption and to make sure that the riches of Nigeria serves Nigerians inside the country.
She said the Fund had last year, adopted very strong policies on anti-corruption and worked with governments to build their capacity to make serving citizens of the country with the money of the country, is possible.
The IMF chief said the tax collection level in Nigeria leaves quite a lot of room for improvements and without strengthening the fiscal position of the government, the expenditure side will suffer.
“So the recommendation that we always give is that countries should strive for 15 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in terms of collection to fund the responsibilities of the government and in Nigeria, this is still quite far. If I am not wrong, we are still in the single-digit territory. Secondly, we have been recommending that the country diversify its economy because reliance on oil doesn’t serve very well,” she said
Also speaking, the World Bank President, David Malpass, said global growth is slowing and that about 700 million people still live in extreme poverty, which in his estimation, is “about one in 12 people on the planet.”
He said with the right mix of policies and structural reforms, countries can unleash growth that’s broadly shared across all segments of society. “This is especially true in emerging markets and developing countries, where well-designed reforms can deliver meaningful gains. In short, we seek material impact in terms of broad-based growth, transparency, the rule of law and private-sector expansion,” he stated.
“We need to be careful how we calibrate our response to the global slowdown. Many countries have already used up their fiscal and monetary-policy space, so structural reforms are essential. Over $15 trillion in bonds have zero or negative yields, which amounts to frozen capital. Debt has climbed to troubling levels. We need fresh thinking to reignite growth,” Malpass said.
He said the World Bank Group, is staying focused on its mission. of helping countries build strong programs tailored to the unique circumstances of their economies.
“We’re helping countries build strong programs tailored to the unique circumstances of their economies. We’re encouraging innovations that attract private-sector investment, such as digital money. We’re promoting the rule of law and transparency in debt management and public finances. We’re investing to help countries gain access to electricity and clean water, ensure the full inclusion of girls and women, address climate change and protect the environment, improve health and nutrition, and bolster infrastructure,” he stated.