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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Okonjo-Iweala quits World Bank to be Finance Minister

Latest Nigeria News - Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala World Bank managing director resigned her post on Friday in order to become Nigeria's new finance minister, spurring hopes of reform in sub-Saharan Africa's second biggest economy.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will take up an expanded position as Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance in Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's new cabinet, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said in a statement.

"Her desire to serve her country is truly a big loss for the World Bank but a major gain for Nigeria as it works to craft its economic way forward," he said.

Government sources told Reuters two weeks ago that Jonathan had asked Okonjo-Iweala, a respected former finance minister who helped negotiate debt rescheduling in 2005, to return to her old position with broad powers over economic management.

Jonathan was sworn in for his first full term on May 29 following general elections and his ministerial choices are being closely watched by Nigerians and foreign investors keen for a team capable of driving badly needed reforms.

"We think President Goodluck Jonathan's selection of the World Bank MD will result in a vote of confidence for his administration, and suggests he is serious about initiating fiscal reforms," Renaissance Capital said in a research note.

Okonjo-Iweala laid out her vision for the Nigerian economy during her screening by the Senate on Wednesday, pledging she would create jobs and ensure the country "lives within its means" if approved as a cabinet minister.

The high cost of government has been a major concern for economists and investors. Recurrent expenditure accounts for well over half of spending despite poor public services.

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