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GDP: Whose figures’ll Nigerians believe more, FG or OPS?

Since the recent report of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showing that Nigerian economy has distanced self far away from recession, considering recording 1.4 per cent rise in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), stakeholders in the Organized Private Sector (OPS), have come up with nearly contradicting figures showing that negative growth in real sector contradicts government’s GDP numbers.

The controversy is still raging as the presidency on hearing the NBS report, jumped into claiming that the data has vindicated its fiscal policies.

The Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters, Dr. Adeyemi Dipeolu, to remark: “The overall picture that emerges is that the economy is on the path of recovery. As inflation trends downwards, and with steady implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), real growth should soon be realised across all sectors in a mutually reinforcing manner.”

But OPS experts are arguing that rather than making progress, several manufacturing outfits are still in coma and noted that there is a -2.85 per cent dive despite PMI expansion.

A break-down indicates manufacturing, a critical sector of the economy, has actually suffered a setback.

Otherwise, the NBS data shows that the real GDP growth in the sector in Q3 was -2.85 per cent.

In his reaction to the NBS report, the Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf, expressed reservations, saying “The figure is a reflection of the serious setback suffered by the sector over the last couple of months, due to the challenges of foreign exchange, lack of infrastructure and non-availability of cheap working capital”.

In the views of the President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Prof. Segun Ajibola, it would amount to “shortsightedness” to celebrate “just the numbers” when they were not realised by deliberate policies and actions of government.

He argued that “We must scrutinise the data. If the growth is fueled by oil and not non-oil sector, we are still at the same place and it is something to be cautious about”.

However, the Statistician General of the Federation, Dr. Yemi Kale in the report, insisted that the results also came from internationally-approved parameters like tax receipts from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and other administrative protocols.

He was silent on the key manufacturing parameters which actually are the key indices used in calculating the economic heartbeat of the nation in real terms and not mere government spending and earnings.

Experts say government spending only makes about 6 per cent of the needed indices used in calculating GDP after all.

Already, a development economist and United Kingdom-based urban and regional planner, Dr. Innocent Okpanum, in an interview saw the NBS figures as ‘stunning’ and “impossible” to believe considering the realities on the economy now.