Economy of Nigeria - Gradual Reform

Gradual Reform

The Obasanjo government supports "private-sector" led, "market oriented" economic growth and has begun extensive economic reform efforts. Although the government's anti-corruption campaign has so far been disappointing, progress in injecting transparency and accountability into economic decisionmaking is notable. The dual exchange rate mechanism formally abolished in the 1999 budget remains in place in actuality. During 2000 the government's privatization program showed signs of life and real promise with successful turnover to the private sector of state-owned banks, fuel distribution companies, and cement plants. However, the privatization process has slowed somewhat as the government confronts key parastatals such as the state telephone company NITEL and Nigerian Airways. The successful auction of GSM telecommunications licenses in January 2001 has encouraged investment in this vital sector.

Although the government has been stymied so far in its desire to deregulate downstream petroleum prices, state refineries, almost paralyzed in 2000, are producing at much higher capacities. By August 2001, gasoline lines disappeared throughout much of the country. The government still intends to pursue deregulation despite significant internal opposition, particularly from the Nigeria Labour Congress. To meet market demand the government incurs large losses importing gasoline to sell at subsidized prices.

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