James Emejo in Abuja
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba, has emphasised the need to implement the economic sustainability programmes of the government amid crippling losses suffered by businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He noted that the pandemic which has so far affected 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has paralysed economic activities and caused loss of income for households and businesses as well as huge revenue setback for the government.
The minister noted that the Bonny Light crude oil price had dropped from a peak of $72.2 per barrel as at January 7, 2020, to below $20 recently, and had necessitated an adjustment of the crude oil benchmark in the 2020 budget.
He added that there had been a global shutdown in virtually every aspect of manufacturing, services and commerce.
Speaking at the opening of the 10th edition of Community of Practice (CoP) meeting, theme: “Minimising the Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on the Nigerian Economy: A strategic Approach,” he said there was an urgent need to reduce the impact of the pandemic as well as minimise the decline in economic activities and ensure diversification of the economy.
He said most of the federal government’s intervention programme would require active state and local government participation and support to achieve the desired success.
Agba, said the federal government was committed to building a resilient health system through favorable tariffs to support domestic pharmaceutical companies and allied manufacturers as well as improving infrastructure in public secondary and tertiary health institutions.
He said the government would also invest in agriculture and food security to create mass employment and focus on increasing land under cultivation with state governments while contributing between 20,000 hectares to 100,000 hectares and constructing rural roads on the agro- corridor to facilitate transportation of agricultural products to markets.
According to a statement issued by Director, Information, Budget and National Planning, Victoria Agba-Attah, the minister also said the federal government had set out to create jobs for the youths post COVID-19, through mines and steel development, artisanal and small-scale miners in six zonal clusters.
He added that the government would further support small businesses and provide bailout support to the aviation sector among other interventions.