The Nigerian government has been warned about its dealings with the International Monetary Fund by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) as the IMF’s Managing Director visits the country and holds meetings with key officials including President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) strongly advises the Federal Government to beware of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). We say this in view of media reports of Monday’s arrival at Abuja of Managing Director of the Fund, Ms Christine Lagarde, for a four-day working visit during which she is scheduled to meet President Muhammadu Buhari to discuss some of the challenges facing the nation’s economy.
This warning is informed by our bitter past experience with the financial body. Our country is already in dire state and cannot cope with the IMF’s characteristic shylock conditionalities attached to its credit facilities, and must not accept same if that is what the visit is about.
For the umpteenth time, we wonder aloud: Can’t we solve our challenges as a nation without foreign intervention? Must the Brettonwood institutions be the ones to always determine and tell us when our economy is doing well and when to devalue the naira? Why must they suggest to us how our economy can be fixed, whereas their recipe has consistently tended to end up impoverishing more Nigerians than ever before? Why has it become so difficult to produce good and quality rice and other local products for domestic and export needs? Since when did it become rocket science for our once functional refineries to produce at more than 30 percent of installed capacity and make petroleum products available? Etc..
Instances abound of countries that were hitherto nowhere in terms of development in the 1970s/80s but have successfully transformed into giants and premium net exporters of goods and services. Instead of exploring its other natural resources, our country has stayed glued to its blasé identity as a monocultural oil-based economy. Conversely India, China, Malaysia, South Africa, Indonesia, etc. are all doing well today because they looked inward to all their potentials. Meanwhile the biggest buyer of our oil, the United States, has become a large exporter of the same product, clogging the market and causing our economy to gasp for air.
We are hard pressed to believe that the IMF chief’s visit is a mere courtesy call. True to the traditions of her organisation, she would definitely look to dabble and meddle in our fiscal and monetary challenges and seek to sell our government another of their portage of self-serving, ill-adaptable theories and policies that are sure to further impact negatively on the country’s revenue and increase the pressure on the naira in the foreign exchange market. While we are not adverse to genuine mutually beneficial partnership with the Fund or any other body, we shall fight any agenda inimical to the economic and other interests of the Nigerian masses.
The proposed meeting with President Buhari should yield improvements in our business environment, promote opportunities for growth in the private sector, accelerate job creation and strengthen social cohesion. Policies that do not work for the country should not be embraced. Additionally, we advocate re-negotiation of our current loans in the light of the burden that debt-servicing constitutes to our budget, which is about 23 percent of the total budget.
Lastly, the Congress warns that no devaluation of the naira should be countenanced unless the percentage of devaluation is equivalent to the percentage increase in the national minimum wage. Nothing less will suffice.