Dr Aminu Usman, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Kaduna State University, has frowned at the merging of the Ministry of Finance with Budget and National Planning. He said this while speaking in Abuja. Usman, an economist, said that it was hard to believe that after the experiences the country has had in the past four years, it was still not ready to embrace National Economic Planning with the required seriousness it deserved.
“There is a subsisting law that says National Planning Commission should be chaired by the President and run by a Chairman of cabinet status, usually the Chief Economic Adviser to the president.
“Converting the commission to a ministry is a great disservice let alone subsuming it under Ministry of Finance. In effect, we will as a nation continue to grope in the dark not knowing where we are and or where we are going,” he said.
Usman said it was time the nation took lessons from the experiences of India, China, Brazil, and other nations that had institutionalised periodic national planning and stuck to it over the years.
He added that it was evident that these countries had been able to move their country ahead of their peers and were able to lift millions of their people out of poverty over the years because of proper planning.
“I want to believe that the president is not aware of the need to strengthen our capacity to plan for our development and follow it up with due diligent implementation including legislation to prevent any coming government from deviating from the nation’s plan or return to planlessness.
“Going forward, we will now be driven by short term monetary and fiscal policy goals that might have little or no long term benefit to the economy in a coordinated matter. In fact, planning now becomes a non-issue as for sure the minister will be preoccupied with finance and treasury issues.”
The dean, however, advised the minister, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed to take steps that would put the country on the path to planning such that it would be able to track its progress on a continuous basis and also ensure budgets were drawn from agreed plans.
According to him, this way the nation will be able to measure the progress it is making as a country against its set targets and that of its peers. He also urged the finance minister to find a way of fostering a good working relationship with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“They should be complementary, rather than rivals in the management of the economy. She should also focus on long term approach to issues rather than always focusing on short term macroeconomic gains that may not have any trickle-down effect on the well-being of average Nigerians ravaged by excruciating poverty. In essence, I am advising the minister to pay more attention to the planning arm of her new mega ministry,” he added.