The European Union (EU) says it is providing 80 million Euros to the World Bank-Assisted State Employment and Expenditure for Result (SEEFOR) projects in Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Rivers.
Programme Manager, Economic Governance and Trade Cooperation Section, Mr Omotunde Oni, disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja at a National Validation Workshop on the Informal Sector Study of four SEEFOR States.
Oni explained that the workshop was timely as it would benefit the states and the Federal Government in utilising the potential of the informal sector for Nigeria’s economic growth.
He said the current developments in the Nigerian economy especially with the recession in oil revenues to the country and security challenges were negatively affecting oil production and export.
“There is a drastic reduction in the demand for Nigerian oil in the international market, occasioned by instability in the market and other intrusive factors.
“It is safe to assume that Nigeria will have to contend with the reality of continued reduction in oil revenue for sometime to come.
“Consequently, the impact of this reality on the Nigerian economy calls for urgent and concrete steps by government to ensure a long-term mitigation of the adverse effect of dependence on oil revenue.
“In this regard, it is instructive that the Federal Government is already planning and taking measures towards increasing non-oil revenue, blocking leakages in the oil sector and stabilising the foreign exchange regime,” he said.
Oni said there was need for concerted efforts by government towards ensuring adequate coverage, constructive engagement and integration of the informal sector into the mainstream of economic planning and development.
He said available statistics on Nigeria’s rebased Gross Domestic Product (GDP) put the informal sector as accounting for about 57 per cent of the country’s GDP.
According to him, yet this huge sector of the economy and its potential for economic growth have not been fully documented and utilised.
“The study of the informal sector of the SEEFOR beneficiary states cannot happen at a better time than now.
“This is in view of the immense benefits it could accrue to the benefitting states and the Federal Government if the output of the study and recommendation of this workshop is implemented,” he said.
Oni said in harmony with the policy thrust of the current administration, development of the informal sector is a sine qua non for generating employment.
He also said that the informal sector’s development would reduce crimes perpetrated by idle unemployed youths, increased the GDP and reduce poverty in Nigeria.
In his remarks, Mr Atul Deshpande, Lead Public Sector Governance Specialist and Task Team Leader SEEFOR project, said the project was part of efforts to create job opportunities.
Deshpande, however, commended the National Planning Commission (NPC) and Nigerian Institute for Social and Economic Research (NISER) for producing the report on informal sector.
He said the commissions did a wonderful job to validate the report on the Informal Sector and Economic Development of the four SEEFOR States of Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Rivers.
“It is a good initiative, considering that the informal sector has an important role in the economy and create employment for 80 per cent of the households.
“It is also nice to see the methodology that NISER employed in the study,” the specialist said.
NAN reports that the workshop was aimed at building and sustaining the desired synergy between the Federal Government and States’ stakeholders.
It was also aimed at building synergy between the Funding Partners in the Implementation of the SEEFOR Project.