FG tasks state governments on minimizing impact of COVID-19 on economy

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The Federal Government has tasked the Community of Practice (CoP) to join hands in minimizing the impact of COVID-19 on Nigeria’s economy.

According to a statement by Director, Information Budget and National Panning (BNP) Victoria Agba-Attah, the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, gave this charge on Friday in Abuja during a virtual 10th edition of Community of Practice (CoP) meeting, with the theme: ‘’Minimizing the Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on the Nigerian Economy: A strategic Approach.”

Agba-Attah said the meeting, which was organized by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning (the Budget and National Panning arm), in collaboration with the UK’s DFID and Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL) was an opportunity for the Federal Government, State Commissioners of Budget and Economic Planning and other Stakeholders to discuss ways of mitigating impact ofCOVID-19 pandemic on States’ economy and the nation in general.

In his keynote address, the Minister said that the COVID-19 pandemic had so far affected 34 States and the FCT, paralyzing economic activities and causing loss of income for households and businesses.

According to Agba, the Bonny Light crude oil price droped from a peak of US$72.2 per barrel on January 7th, 2020, to below US$20 recently (a fall below the budget benchmark of US$57/b and there had been a global shutdown in virtually every area of manufacturing, services and commerce.

He also stated that non-oil revenue, largely made up of taxes, had also practically dried up. “This is because businesses are not working, due to the pandemic inspired shut down in Nigeria and the world over. Consequently, businesses would suffer crippling losses with ultimate impact on employment, thus the need for Economic Sustainability Programmes,” he said.

In his presentation, the Minister stressed that there was urgent need to reduce the impact of the pandemic, reduce the decline in economic activities and ensure diversification of the economy.

Agba said that, the Federal Government was committed to: Building a resilient HealthSystem (COVID-19 Health) through favourable tariff to support domestic pharmaceutical companies and allied manufactures, improvement of infrastructure in public secondary and tertiary health institutions; stimulation of jobs and food for all: Agriculture and

Food Security by creating many jobs; and  focusing on increasing land under cultivation with States Governments contributing between 20,000to 100,000 hectares and constructing rural road on Agro- corridor to facilitate transportation of agricultural product to markets.

He also said that the Federal government had set out to create jobs for youths, post-COVID-19; through Mines and Steel Development; Artisanal and Small Scale Miners in Six zonal clusters.

On Social Investment Programme, the Minister said that government would focus on supporting small businesses, give bailout support to Aviation Sector, WASH programme and Energy for All: Solar Power Strategy, among others.

Agba, however, noted that most of the Federal Government intervention programmes would require active state and local government participation and support to achieve the desired success.

“We need active participation from stakeholders in the on-going Nigeria Agenda 2050 and Medium Term National Development Plan (2021-2025).

“States and local governments are to participate at Steering Committee level and the various Technical Working Groups,” he emphasized.

Speaking earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Olusola Idowu, maintained that the theme of the meeting was apt and timely considering the prevailing global circumstances.

She, therefore, expressed her gratitude to UK’s DFID-PERL for their support towards the successes of the CoP meetings and their sustained back-up to the CoP/NEC Secretariat.

Other presenters at the forum were the Director General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze and the Director, Macro-Economic Analysis, Budget and National Planning, Mr. David Adeosun.

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