2016 budget’ll encourage economic diversification – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday promised that the 2016 budget being prepared by his administration would be specially designed to encourage the diversification of the nation’s economy.

He said new policies and measures that would move the economy away from the current dependence on the oil and gas sector would be introduced.

The President, however, did not disclose the specific policies and measures.

According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari spoke while receiving the President of the Movement of the Enterprises of France, Mr. Pierre Gattaz, and a delegation of French investors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The President made the disclosure just as the French investors sought assurances from Buhari on the safety of their planned investments in Nigeria

Shehu quoted Buhari as saying that policies being evolved by his administration to boost domestic manufacturing and attract greater investment to Nigeria’s agricultural and mining sectors would be given full effect in the 2016 budget.

The President urged Gattaz and the French trade mission, which included over 50 companies with interest in manufacturing, agriculture, infrastructure development and other areas, to return to Nigeria again next year in order to take full advantage of the new policies.

He also assured the French investors that under his leadership, Nigeria would not fall short of international standards in the protection of foreign investments and the repatriation of returns on such investments.

The President agreed that domestic security and the inflow of foreign investment were intrinsically linked.

He, therefore, told his guests, whose visit to Nigeria is a follow-up to his recent trip to Paris, that the Federal Government was taking necessary measures to overcome the present security challenges in the country.

Buhari said, “Our government came into office at a time when many people had abandoned the country’s manufacturing, agricultural and mining sectors.

“We are doing our best to encourage diversification into these sectors, which can employ a lot of people, and we will welcome your support in this regard.

“Ultimately, reducing unemployment will also help to improve security, because unemployment and insecurity are inseparable.”

The President said Nigeria would welcome more French investments to its power sector because the availability of steady power supply would lead to the reopening of closed factories and the creation of more jobs.

He also assured the delegation that his administration was tackling corruption with vigour in order to ensure greater probity in the management of national resources.

The MEDEF President, who spoke on behalf of the French investors, sought assurances from Buhari on the safety of their planned investments in Nigeria and the easing of bureaucratic bottlenecks.

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