ERGP Focus Labs’ Projects Expected To Create 500,000 New Jobs – VP Osinbajo

ERGP Focus Labs' Projects Expected To Create 500,000 New Jobs - VP Osinbajo
ERGP Focus Labs’ Projects Expected To Create 500,000 New Jobs – VP Osinbajo

ERGP Focus Labs’ Projects Expected To Create 500,000 New Jobs – VP Osinbajo

*Says Buhari administration working hard to ensure Nigeria’s economic prosperity

*Adds: Lab has ‘largely achieved what it set out to do’, will usher a brighter future for the country

*Labs identified $22.5 billion in private investments from 164 projects

“The ERGP Focus Labs have succeeded in identifying more than US$22.5 billion in private investments from about 164 projects, which can be unlocked. Of this amount, USD $10.9 billion of them are what we call ‘Most Ready’ projects, that is, we are almost sure to unlock these projects and accelerate their delivery by the private sector. These projects are forecast to create more than half a million new permanent jobs for the people of Nigeria up until the year 2020, demonstrating the far-reaching impact of the ERGP Focus Labs in unleashing a brighter future for our country.

“The ERGP is unlike others introduced by governments in the past. At its core is a focused approach to its implementation, supported in particular, by the highest level of political will, from the President himself through to our civil servants on the ground… It is no longer business as usual for us in government.

“In closing, I spoke of political will and direction coming from the highest leadership of the land, led by the example of President Buhari himself. We are working to ensure that the promises made in the President’s manifesto come to fruition for the people of Nigeria. It is our aim to make these Focus Labs a success so that Nigeria can take a transformative step towards sustained economic prosperity and social liveability.” – Vice President

REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE ECONOMIC RECOVERY AND GROWTH PLAN (ERGP) FOCUS LABS OPEN DAY, HELD AT THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE, ABUJA, ON TUESDAY, MAY 15, 2018.

PROTOCOL

It gives me great pleasure to attend this Open Day to review the outcomes of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) Focus Labs.

Almost one year ago, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari made a promise of this administration’s commitment to the full implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). And we have begun this programme with the running of sector-focused Labs in the ERGP’s priority sectors, namely: Manufacturing, Processing, Power, Gas, Agriculture and Transport.

From the regular updates presented to me throughout the six-week duration, and my personal visit to the Lab, the Lab has largely achieved what it set out to do: that is, to provide a platform for private sector investors to have direct access to regulators, senior government officials, and relevant cabinet ministers in a single location to resolve problems with regulatory or bureaucratic delays inhibiting their businesses. Indeed, the Lab was set up to fast-track the resolution of these tough issues, particularly the inter-agency bottlenecks and the regulatory delays with licensing and approvals that private sector investors face in the course of their normal businesses. And I must say that it has indeed been very gratifying that less than one year after the Cabinet Retreat of August 2017 themed: “Getting Implementation Right”, where we made this decision to take this Lab approach, the progress has been commendable.

Following the six weeks of lab work, which included the participation of around 300 individuals from the government, working to resolve issues and problems presented by captains of industry, we as a government are clearer today as to what we can do today to remove the regulatory and bureaucratic bottlenecks within the ambits of the law. The reality is that if we say that we are committed to improving the business environment and serious about making our economy more market-driven, we cannot but take the outcomes of the Labs very seriously. I am also very confident that we will deliver the change that the President had promised during his inaugural speech, and more recently at the formal opening ceremony of the Focus Labs.

When President Buhari took office in May 2015, all the signs were already pointing in the direction of a recession for Nigeria, especially in 2016. This is how we knew we needed to take swift action to place our economy on a more diversified, inclusive and sustainable growth path. This led to the launch of the short-term Strategic Implementation Plan 2016 (SIP 2016) to stem the recession, and then the ERGP 2017-2020, designed to achieve sustained, inclusive, diversified growth to achieve maximum welfare for the people of Nigeria.

The ERGP is unlike others introduced by governments in the past. At its core is a focused approach to its implementation, supported in particular by the highest level of political will, from the President himself through to our civil servants on the ground. However, the ERGP requires billions of dollars in investments to ensure its success in achieving our long-term goals. Most of these investments would, of course, be from the private sector. So our focus was to deal frontally with the issues facing private sector businesses.

In February 2018, we commenced Wave 1 of the ERGP Focus Labs to accelerate the implementation of the ERGP. For six weeks, the participants of the labs, made up of both public and private sector representatives, rigorously drilled down the issues with the projects presented, and brain-stormed on how to resolve these issues, and the bureaucratic reforms needed to fast-track the development of our country.

As the Honourable Minister of Budget and National Planning has mentioned, the ERGP Focus Labs have succeeded in identifying more than US$22.5 billion in private investments from about 164 projects, that can be unlocked. Of this amount, USD $10.9 billion of them are what we call ‘Most Ready’ projects, that is we are almost sure to unlock these projects and accelerate their delivery by the private sector. These projects are forecast to create more than half a million new permanent jobs for the people of Nigeria up until the year 2020, demonstrating the far-reaching impact of the ERGP Focus Labs in unleashing a brighter future for our country.

Allow me to take this opportunity to reiterate the government’s commitment to seeing the ERGP through to its completion. Given the overwhelming interest of the private sector in this initiative, and the clamour for more Labs, we are very sure that we will follow through this process and the Focus Labs would not be an isolated episode.

The Central Steering Committee, which I chair, would continue to meet regularly to address these bottlenecks at the cabinet level. In addition, there is a standing committee of Permanent Secretaries in about seven ministries, who have been mandated to ensure that the key implementation decisions made during the Labs are followed through to implementation. I have mandated a monthly progress report on issues resolved on behalf of the private sector. It is no longer business as usual for us in government.

In closing, I spoke of political will and direction coming from the highest leadership of the land, led by the example of President Buhari himself. We are working to ensure that the promises made in the President’s manifesto come to fruition for the people of Nigeria. It is our aim to make these Focus Labs a success so that Nigeria can take a transformative step towards sustained economic prosperity and social liveability.

I’d like to thank everyone again, especially the private sector investors who spent six weeks of their time to help us understand the issues with our regulatory processes better, and, of course, to have benefited from this process.

Finally, I must commend Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, who is the coordinator of this entire enterprise, for his personal commitment to this process, and it is his personal commitment that has brought us this far, no matter how modest he wants to sound. He and the team of experts that he put together have approached this whole project with passion, with a steady hand and the resoluteness that is required for the implementation of big dreams such as we have set for ourselves. I want to thank you all for your service.

As we stand here today to review the outcome of the ERGP Focus Labs, I must say that we must urge all participants to provide constructive feedback so that we all collectively can benefit from the outcomes of our working together and to realise our dreams of building a better business environment for Nigeria, and for those especially who invest in this country.

So it is my very special pleasure to declare this particular segment of the Lab process open, and I wish us all a very fruitful time here. And more importantly, I wish us all that the implementation of these Focus Labs will come to fruition in very short order, and we look forward to this as soon as possible.

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