‘Probing NNPC good for Nigeria’

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buhari-300x250 Probing the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC by the in-coming government of Maj.-Gen.  Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) would address the twin problems of corruption and impunity in Nigeria, the  World bank Chief Economist, Mr. Francisco Ferreira, has said.

He spoke in Washington DC, United States of America, during a video conference to mark the Africa’s  Pulse , which is published half-yearly on economic development issues on the African continent.

According to him, “One norm that has to change is the norm of impunity. I am from Brazil myself. So I am  also used to a country where people could be corrupt and escape justice. That keeps the people to keep  doing it.

“So, the current stand of the government-elect to look into what happened in the past hopefully will have consequences for the future. And those consequences will be that institutions will be stronger; norms will be cleaner and people will not have to steal millions of dollars from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

“People have alleged in the past that there had been major corruption scandals there. If that stops, then that will have very high returns in terms of the money staying around to be spent on education, health, roads and power that the poor people across the country need.

“So, my sense is that it will be good to promote cleanliness in politics.”

The Chief economist who commended President Goodluck Jonathan for his maturity in making the just-concluded general election peaceful, urged other African leaders to borrow a leaf from him.

Mr. Ferreira said that if Nigeria could get it right; other countries in the region should also be able to get it right.

Answering a question from a South African journalist on the possibility of the country overtaking Nigeria as the largest economy on the continent given the fall of Nigeria’s main export, crude oil, Ferreira said it did not look plausible.

The World Bank official noted that in spite of the current oil price fall which had adversely affected the Nigerian economy, the economy would rebound next year, driven by a relatively diversified economy, and a buoyant services sector.

Low oil prices will continue to weigh down on prospects of less diversified oil exporters such as Angola and Equatorial Guinea. In several oil-importing countries, such as Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya and Senegal, growth is expected to remain strong. In Ghana, still high inflation and fiscal consolidation will weigh on growth. In South Africa, growth continues to be curtailed by problems in the electricity sector.

“Foreign direct investment inflows were subdued in 2014, reflecting slower growth in emerging markets and declining commodity prices. African countries continue to tap international bond markets to finance infrastructure projects: Cote d’Ivoire returned to the market this February; and Ethiopia had a debut issue in December 2014. Although debt burdens remain generally manageable, debt-to-GDP ratios for countries with increased bond market access have picked up in recent years. Uncertainty about future global monetary conditions are an additional reason for caution”, the bank said.

Terrorism heightens Africa’s risks

According to the global institution, persistent conflict in a number of areas, and recent violence by extremist groups such as Boko Haram and Al Shabaab pose security risks with the potential to undermine development gains.

It added that the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone has highlighted preexisting weaknesses in the health systems of the three most affected countries, as well as others.

“Although substantial progress has been made against the Ebola epidemic, it remains premature to declare victory until there are zero cases left”, the bank said.

It added “A World Bank study released in January estimated that the three hardest-hit countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone) will face at least $1.6 billion in forgone economic growth in 2015, and social costs in terms of nutrition, health and education are equally severe. The Bank Group has mobilized about $1 billion in financing to date for the three countries hardest hit by Ebola”.

The World Bank delivered $15.7 billion in new lending for over 160 projects across Africa in Fiscal Year 2015.

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