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Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma, has described the recent ranking of Nigeria by World Data Lab in Vienna, Austria, as the poorest country as ‘baseless’, saying it did not reflect the true situation of things on ground in the country.

He insisted that the Federal Government had introduced programmes geared towards eradicating austerity amongst it teaming population.

Explaining further, Udoma said World Data Lab did not directly rely on household survey data as national statistical offices in most countries do.

He maintained that, instead, they relied on models to estimate poverty rates across countries using data provided by national governments to international agencies.

In statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Akpandem James, Udoma noted that “the models make assumptions on expected future changes in income, IMF medium-term growth forecasts and long-term projections and analysis developed by the OECD, all of which are significantly influenced by uncertainty.

“It is, in essence, just a model based on a lot of assumptions which cannot substitute for field work involving actual data collected from households in a consistent and representative way.

Still explaining, he said “The specific case of Nigeria, the Poverty Clock uses as baseline the General Household Survey 2012/13 which was not designed to measure poverty indicators accurately and follows a methodology that can be misleading if relied upon for poverty estimates.”

Udoma also stressed that “The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) remains the statutory agency of government with responsibility for producing Nigeria’s official statistics, including poverty estimates.

“Like several other countries, Nigeria’s poverty estimates are obtained from the National Living Standard Survey (NLSS) undertaken every five years, and which was last conducted in 2010.”

The minister further assured Nigerians that the “Federal Government, in line with strategies outlined in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), remains committed to promoting sustainable economic development through various social investment schemes that will yield positive impacts on poverty and unemployment; and will consequently change the trajectory of poverty in the country.

“Apart from the Social Investment Programme (SIP) which has engaged a lot of youths in entrepreneurial and skills training alongside the school feeding programme which has provided balanced meals for millions of school children, government believes that the fastest way to reduce the level of poverty and increase social inclusion is to create jobs.

“In the ERGP, this administration is committed to creating 15 million jobs in four years by 2020 by developing labour intensive sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, housing and construction,” he added.

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