FG convenes Focus Labs to drive accelerated realization ERGP objectives

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The Ministry of Budget and National Planning today (Tuesday, March 6, 2018) in Abuja unveiled the scale and purpose of the upcoming Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) Focus Labs, which will take place over a six week period, beginning March 13, 2018.
The Labs will be formally launched by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Banquet Hall of the State House in Abuja on Tuesday, March 13.
The ERGP is designed to achieve three broad objectives. To:
• restore growth to a positive path and sustain it to, at least, 7% by 2020,
• invest in our people and improve their living standards by ensuring that the poorest and vulnerable members of the society are adequately supported and human capital base of the nation is significantly improved.
• build an economy that is aglobally competitive, which requires investing in critical infrastructure and tackling other obstacles that impede the ease of doing business in the country.

Following the return to economic growth in 2017, and a stable and liquid foreign exchange regime, this first objective of restoring growth has been largely achieved, and the government is focused on achieving the broader objectives of the plan.

The Lab process is therefore one of the several initiatives by government to fast track the attainment of the strategic objectives of the plan. The labs will be conducted in:
• Agriculture and transportation,
• Power and gas,
• Manufacturing and processing (including solid minerals).

The objective is to align with the private sector on the projects that offer the most catalytic impact on investment and job creation and develop plans to implement them. The government is committed to addressing the complex inter-agency problems that can hinder investment, and in return is seeking investment commitments in the strategic sectors that the ERGP is focusing on.

The labs will:
• Identify projects which will drive catalytic growth that will contribute in increasing private investments and create new jobs for Nigerians (Entry Point Projects or EPPs).
• Develop clear implementation plans for each EPP with identified budget, key individuals responsible for these activities and accountable lead ministers along with key performance indicators.
• Breakdown silos to harness private-public partnerships.
• Align stakeholders to execute the plans.
• Build trust and credibility between the public and private sectors.
Commenting at the media briefing to sensitise the press on the process, on Thursday, the Minister for Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma said: “Over the last seven weeks, the ERGP implementation team have been working to map and understand the projects that exist across six (6) core sectors of the economy, and the stakeholders that are involved.
“This includes asking the private sector to submit project details to the implementation unit for review. The outcome of this process has been the identification of potential Entry Point Projects which investors and government can review and discuss over the coming weeks.”
Drawing attention to the fact that the focus labs structure has never been used before in Nigeria, the Minister explained that “what will happen is that we will invite potential and existing investors, both foreign and Nigerian, who may be interested in investing in any of the three areas we are focusing on to attend the closed-door sessions.
“At the sessions they will have access in one location, to all the officials of government whose support, or approvals, they might need to enable them commit to an investment decision. In short, the focus labs will involve stakeholders from the public and private sectors working together in a single environment to think out practical and workable solutions for delivering the kind of results Nigeria needs.
“The central objective of the labs will be to bring in private capital to finance projects across the country. Our aim is, simply put, to raise the level of productivity in Nigeria. We want more things to be grown in Nigeria. We want more things to be made in Nigeria. We want more opportunities created for Nigerians to be able to work. That is what the focus labs are all about” he emphasised.
Explaining how the labs will work, he said “we will invite potential and existing investors, both foreign and Nigerian, who may be interested in investing in any of the three areas we are focusing on to attend the closed-door sessions. At the sessions they will have access in one location, to all the officials of government whose support, or approvals, they might need to enable them commit to an investment decision.
In short, the focus labs will involve stakeholders from the public and private sectors working together in a single environment to think out practical and workable solutions for delivering the kind of results Nigeria needs.
While indicating that the National Assembly and the State governments will be part of the labs’ process for support that will be critical for the take-off of many of the projects We are also inviting officials of State Governments to participate because most of the projects, he pointed out that “the involvement of nine (9) cabinet Ministers and their teams, as well as multiple agencies and departments, is a clear demonstration of the resolve and commitment that the government has to delivering on its obligations and delivering on the investment objectives of the ERGP.”