Nobody knows or can determine the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic, when we will come out of it or when we will get a safe nod to resume our daily lives. As it stands, businesses will fold up, jobs will be lost, many lives will be no more. But for those that survive, there must be hope and continuity. How we will be able to pick ourselves back up will be heavily determined on the individual business and government.
Taking a critical look at the recovery scenario, we will say that the government in our country needs to pick itself up and act like a government should, like they truly have a responsibility of meaningfully improving the lot of Nigeria and her citizens.
The centralized operations and decision making in the economy will not work. The fact that different ministries and agencies roll out various policies, rules and regulations that benefits them independently without considerations for businesses whose operations depends on and cuts across various ministries, or where they believe as government they have the rights to sanction whatever they may to recover their Covid-19 set back without a care for the impacts on citizens and businesses will not hold in the coming months.
When we finally get to open Nigeria for business again, the economy will not bounce back in 6 months, and so government does not need to go back to its normal ways of getting results by forcing unwarranted increase in rates and taxes to meet its obligations. The obligation of the government now is to bring back business operations to the economy, and a sense of security – not only of lives and property, but also of rights and contractual tenure in business.
Government needs to refocus its priorities. Economic recovery and stability should be key. Polices that would enable a smooth and hitch-free return of activities should be at the forefront of government plans. Projects need to be suspended; running costs need to be reviewed as the pandemic hit everyone across the globe.
We should not expect much in the form of aide from any nation at this point as we are all in the same situation; we need to do a complete review of every aspect of our lives, every aspect of governance across board to provide for ourselves policies and rules that would positively impact us specifically for our own business operating environment without making any reference to other country’s policies
and case. We should formulate laws that would be beneficial for us, in our peculiar behavioural and understanding manner.
At this time it is difficult to put a hand on the impact caused on the economic situation as we are not in a recession. There was not a regression process but a close to complete immediate shutdown of activities the Economy and most economies in the continent and globally due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
Fiscal and monetary policies need to be properly structured to guide recovery. The need to look into various businesses in various industries to formulate plans that would lead to their stabilisation and to improve operations and productivity should be considered for the creation of avenues to improve wealth mobilisation.
To begin operation will be difficult; many companies will need to review their production process, supply chain and work force. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) stimulus package to support households and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is a good incentive. But financial aid and injection will not work for all, bearing in mind that not all every business will get the assistance, or every business will meet its requirements. Many businesses or industries may even prefer policy changes and improvements to financial injections.
The road to return the economy back on track should not be done as business as usual. We need to be very careful in the decisions and policies so as not to end up in a worse situation. This is a time to reboot the economy to make it beneficial to all.
Augustine Arunah, is a Director at SM and LB Consulting Limited.