COVID-19: Towards A Responsive Stimulus Package

COVID-19: Towards A Responsive Stimulus Package

Following the consequences envisaged would ensue post-COVID-19, a pandemic that has not spared any part of the globe, it became imperative for nations to adopt various desperate measures to confront the scenarios.


As its own response, Nigeria forthrightly, has released its Economic Sustainability Plan which it hopes will address the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic now and beyond. The plan was put together by the Economic Sustainability Committee, ESC, assembled by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Members of the committee included the Vice President, CBN Governor, 15 Ministers, Group Managing Director, GMD, NNPC, and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum.
The committee was among others, charged with developing a clear Economic Sustainability Plan in response to challenges posed by the COVID-19 Pandemic:
Identify fiscal measures for enhancing distributable oil and gas revenue:
Increasing non-oil revenues and reducing non-essential spending, towards securing sufficient resources to fund the plan;
Propose monetary policy measures in support of the plan;
Provide a Fiscal/Monetary Stimulus Package, including support to private businesses (with emphasis on strategic sectors most affected by the pandemic) and vulnerable segments of the population;
Articulate specific measures to support the States and FCT;
Propose a clear-cut strategy to keep existing jobs and create opportunities for new ones; and
Identify measures that may require legislative support to deliver the plan.
The government opines that if oil revenues average $30 for the rest of the year, it would add with a robust stimulus to make up the difference.
The ESC, therefore, decided to adopt the use of a stimulus package which it referred to as a time tested approach to fighting a recession even though a stimulus was not used the last time Nigeria experienced a recession in 2016.
In proposing a package, the committee submitted that about N2.3 trillion would be injected into the various sectors in order to weather the storm in this very daunting period occasioned by the pandemic that has left so many sectors prostrate.
With that large volume of ambitious intervention, it is expected that the impact of the deficit being envisaged would be mitigated if the stimulus is judiciously appropriated and monitored.
It is salutary that the committee also provided the various strategies the government would adopt to get the needed funding for the stimulus package. These include both local and foreign intervention, with the former contributing more into the fund.
Quite unlike in past where reliance in such instances would be on foreign loans, the ESC decided to look more inwards than external borrowing with its attendant debt overhang, a situation that has not been productive enough.
AljahzirahNigeria commends the committee for this obvious water-tight provisions which if judiciously applied would steer the country out of the woods and remove more Nigerians from extreme poverty that is likely to characterize the nation beyond the COVID-19 era.
While we see these noble attributes enunciated in various sectors including empowering the real sector and the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, it is important to caution that this stimulus when being implemented should not be given any political undertone as beneficiaries should be drawn from a wide segment of society.
It is our position that since the pandemic is not selective in its impact on the nation, irrespective of ethnicity, religion, sex, age among other parameters, it is therefore necessary that any interventionist programme should also follow similar unbiased pattern.


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