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Economist agrees with World Bank report on Nigeria's poverty reduction level

Published by Tribune on Mon, 01 Sep 2014

An economist, Professor Oyinlola Olaniyi of the Economics Department, University of Abuja, has said the recent World Bank report that Nigeria's poverty level has dropped by 2.1 per cent is correct.Olaniyi told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Gwagwalada, Abuja, that the bank's report was not surprising.He said this was because Nigeria's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had been growing at an average of seven per cent annually over the past 10 years.''This should not be surprising considering the fact that in the last 10 years, Nigeria's GDP has been growing at an average of seven per cent annually,'' the economist said.Olaniyi said the impact of the GDP growth would have translated to a better impact on the economy and a drop in the poverty level higher than 2.1 per cent.He said the higher drop was, however, not achieved because of the negative influence of other economic variables which determine economic growth, such as unemployment and poor living standards.''We have only about two per cent drop in poverty level now because the growth has not been producing jobs and improving living standards, due to the negative influence of other economic variables,'' the don said.He said the recent rebasing of Nigeria's GDP and consequent rating as Africa's largest economy must have revealed some hitherto unknown facts about the economy, thus leading to the latest report.''Nigeria should have been Africa's largest economy long ago, looking at her size, the large working population, the abundance of her human and natural resources, among others.''Two per cent reduction in poverty does not mean that the poverty curve has started going down dramatically, but an indication that the situation has started improving and more people are living above the poverty line.''GDP rise does not automatically translate into a robust welfare for the people and dramatic poverty reduction, because the population and structure of the economy are determining factors,'' Olaniyi said.He said a situation where income is generated by only a few people who are working in high income-generating activities, for instance, does not augur well for citizens' living standards generally.The economist said some of the indicators of Nigeria's poverty reduction were Federal Government's efforts towards improving infant and maternal mortality rates, agriculture, healthcare delivery, salaries, mass housing, et cetera.NAN recalls that Mr John Litwack, the World Bank's Acting Country Manager, in a recent statement, said Nigeria's poverty level had dropped by 2.1 per cent under two years.Litwack who said this at the Nigeria Economic Report launch in Abuja said Nigeria's poverty rate dropped from 35.2 per cent in 2010/2011 to 33.1 per cent in 2012/2013.The decrease, he said, represented a dramatic drop from an estimated poverty rate of 62.2 per cent recorded between 2009 and 2010 based on the Harmonised Nigeria Living Standard Statistics (HNLSS).He said the number of poor Nigerians stood at 58 million, out of an estimated population of N170 million, more than half of which live in the North East or North West of the country.Unemployment, he said, was 10 per cent but under-employment posed a bigger challenge because a large share of the population is engaged in low productivity and low income jobs.The report also said there had been positive economic trends with significant progress made by the Federal Government towards poverty eradication in Nigeria.The World Bank official also predicted a 7.4 per cent economic growth for Nigeria in 2014. (NAN)OPO/OLAL
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