‘I will shoot GDP to $1trn in 8 years’ – New CBN boss, Cardoso vows

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The newly confirmed Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Governor, Dr. Olayemi Cardoso,o has disclosed plans to shore up the country’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, to $1 trillion in eight years.

Cardoso spoke while answering questions from senators during his screening and confirmation as the governor of the apex bank.

Those confirmed as deputy governors are: Emem Usoro, Philip Ikeazor, Muhammad Abdullahi-Dattijo, and Bala Bell.

He assured that the ratified board will adopt a number of strategies including short-term and medium-term goals to repair the economy.

According to him, to achieve stability in Nigeria’s exchange rate, measures must be put in place to ensure a healthy balance of payment and diversification of the economy.

“When you look at the dimension of inflation, we will be doing evidence-based monetary policy. We shall not be making decisions based on a whim.

“We will significantly rebound the infrastructural demand with respect to ensuring that our data gathering capacity is enhanced so we can make decisions based on proper data,” he said.

According to him, the immediate thing to look out for if confirmed as CBN Governor is to address operational issues which are the unsettled obligations of the CBN.

He opined that Nigeria will not make progress if it is not able to handle that side of the foreign exchange rate, saying they would do everything possible to ensure that they work closely on the fiscal side and ensure the issue of deficit financing does not become a problem.

He further pointed out the need for a strategy known to players, adding that these immediate steps will ease restrictions in the country’s business environment.

Cardoso added that the removal of oil subsidies, and tightening up tax payments, among others, are part of measures to stabilize the economy.

“There’s the need to significantly revamp data-gathering capacity of the CBN to help in evidence-based decision making by the regulatory house.

“We have to ramp up production of food, that is the aspect the fiscal side will handle and we’ll work very closely with the fiscal side on this, and on energy to make sure that happens quickly.

“The way money has gone in Nigeria on its own has an effect on inflation. And we have seen studies that suggest that money supply has impacted on inflation in the country.

“We also have to work very closely with the fiscal side to ensure that we work on deficit financing,” the former Commissioner for Lagos State Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget said.

The new CBN team equally pledged to ensure a collaborative working relationship with the fiscal policy regulators so as to ensure that things don’t get heated up in the polity.

According to him, there will be a change of mindset in the CBN to promote compliance, maintaining that the apex bank under him will work with the Senate for consultations and adherence to the CBN Act.

Cardoso further underscored the need to do things right, insisting that the bank will not be hijacked by anybody.

“We will not knowingly or unknowingly disobey the law. We are going to endure a culture of compliance in the bank. We are not going to tolerate people not complying. That tone would be fully set from the top,” Cardoso added.

He pledged to bring the best, most qualified advisers, and that the new CBN bank will promote a culture of openness to get the best results.

Also responding to questions from lawmakers, Philip Ikeazu, a Deputy Director, said the new CBN board will “strengthen corporate governance and ensure proper drive of economic policy to maintain price stability and promote a healthy forex.”

He called on the upper chamber to support the apex bank to drive export of locally manufactured goods, and promote corporate governance.

This is just as he commended the federal government for blocking leakages in the economy, and for stopping the fuel subsidy regime.

The CBN team also affirmed that the regulatory body has “strayed significantly over the years”, and that it was committed to returning back on track, and ensuring open and transparent communication with Nigerians.

They assured restoring the dignity of the Central Bank, just as they expressed hope to double economic growth over a 10 year period, as well as expanding the capacity of the economy to produce more “Dangotes and Otedolas.”

During the exercise, the lawmakers bemoaned the woes bedeviling the country’s economy, as they expressed fears at the involvement of the regulatory bank in sectors outside the mandate of the Central Bank Act.

The Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, while addressing the Committee of the Whole, frowned at the involvement of the CBN in construction of classrooms, among others.

He emphasized the need for an apex bank that is focused on providing sound policy and monetary directions for the economy.

Akpabio also regretted that the bank under the former board lost its focus and veered into politics “with money that belongs to Nigerians.”

“No where in the world is a currency changed within one week. But the CBN changed the Naira in 11 days just to sabotage the elections, and because some politicians told him that you can contest for election after all you have money with you,” the Senate President added.