Nigeria is using COVID-19 to restructure economy, says Osinbajo

THE Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), has said Nigeria is seizing the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic as an opportunity to restructure her economic outlook.

Osinbajo disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja at a Webinar organised by the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC), with its focus on Nigeria.

                                                      Prof Yomi Osinbajo (Vice President)

The Vice President, in his speech at the virtual programme, discussed Nigeria’s elaborate national response plan, including the Economic Sustainability Plan, which was produced by the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC), which he chaired.

According to the him, government is using the opportunity of the restructuring to remove petroleum products subsidy and getting the electricity distribution companies to give fair deals to consumers.

“It seemed the sun was beginning to shine quite brightly after the years of recession and its immediate aftermath. Then came COVID-19, possibly the worst economic crisis the world has seen. For us in Nigeria, it was a perfect storm for oil prices, Russia and Saudi Arabia choosing that very moment for a price war. Then, the inevitable lockdowns resulting in closure of businesses, our huge informal economy all but crashed and government revenues fell too by over 40 per cent.

“But, the silver linings were perhaps, bolder in the dark clouds. The President decided that we could seize the opportunity to reset our economy in a way that may have been impossible, had there not been a worldwide economic crash.

“I was asked to chair an inter-ministerial team to develop our Economic Sustainability Plan. A plan which we hope will, in the next 12 months or so, avoid a deep and prolonged recession by supporting businesses and households, but perhaps more importantly, addressing long-term structural vulnerabilities

Taking into account our economic size and fiscal limitations, we have put together a stimulus package of N2.3trillion, which is just over 1.5 per cent of national income. If other factors like the price of oil and length of the COVID-19 pandemic do not worsen further, these interventions should ameliorate the situation with a mild recession expected of minus 0.59 per cent.”

“We are also looking at the Future of Jobs programme in technology, taking into account the ‘new normal’, our creative and significant youth population and the need to prepare our economy to be an outsourcing hub, providing services across the whole gamut of possible technology engagements, including animation, software engineering and data analysis.

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