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Rising COVID-19 cases may induce more hardships, FG warns

By Matthew Ogune and Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze, Abuja
01 July 2020   |   4:18 am
The Federal Government has raised the alarm that Nigeria risks further economic stagnation economic on account of the rising COVID-19 infections nationwide.


• To get $30 million grant to fight virus
The Federal Government has raised the alarm that Nigeria risks further economic stagnation economic on account of the rising COVID-19 infections nationwide.

Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, issued the warning yesterday during the virtual Community Of Practice (COP) meeting of commissioners of economic planning in Abuja.

He pointed out that the disturbing situation coupled with the ongoing global meltdown and the pervasive unemployment could force the national economy to contract to about -8.9 per cent this year in a worst-case scenario, and -4.4 per cent in the best-case setting without any forms of stimulus.

To avert the gloomy state and accelerate economic recovery, the minister said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration had developed three broad strategies aimed at creating and retaining jobs; increasing productivity; ensuring social stability; and addressing prolonged economic vulnerabilities as envisaged in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

Acknowledging the marginal increase in the price of crude oil at the international market, Agba regretted that the daily output cuts by OPEC had further stifled the revenue needed to revamp the economy.

Putting government’s total stimulus packages at N2.3 trillion, he broke them down to include N500 billion FGN intervention fund; N1.2 trillion CBN intervention fund; N334 billion BOl/Bilateral/Multilateral interventions; and an additional FGN support of N300 billion.

The minister said the bailouts, to a large extent, were a combination of fiscal and monetary policies, sectoral interventions, and social programmes.

“The fiscal and monetary policies will support states, businesses, households, and individuals through grants, tax reliefs, payroll support, tariff reductions, and direct support to the health sector.

“The real sector interventions will focus, in particular, on mass agriculture, mass housing, public works, solar power installation, and support to small businesses,” he clarified.

The common feature of the interventions, according to him, was massive empowerment of Nigerians through jobs and encouragement of entrepreneurship.

The minister hinted that government had begun mobilisation of external support and funding for the 2020 budget, by engaging multilateral donor agencies to access more money to respond to the crisis appropriately.

Consequently, he said Nigeria was relating with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for $3.4 billion; and World Bank for $25 billion.

Others are AFDB, which is expected to grant $0.5 billion; African Export-Import Bank, $0.5 billion; and ISDB that would give $113 million credit.

Agba added that the government was also seeking commercial debt reliefs.

In the same vein, the most populous black nation is to secure a $29.8 million facility from Global Fund this month to fight the novel coronavirus with a tenor of one year.

Meanwhile, the donor has given approval for Nigeria to deploy $59 million from its existing grants for HIV, TB and malaria to mitigate the impact of the ravaging COVID-19 on the health system, as well as provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers.

National Coordinator, Civil Society in Malaria Control, Immunisation and Nutrition (ACOMIN), Ayo Ipinmoye, made the disclosure at a media parley yesterday in Abuja.

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