James Emejo in Abuja
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba has tasked state commissioners of economic planning explore additional policy options for a quick recovery of the economy amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the focus should be on targeted and integrated policy response as well as dealing decisively with public health safety issues.
The minister said consideration should given to a new 2020 budget across the states to reflect the new realities.
Speaking at the opening of virtual Community of Practice (CoP) meeting of commissioners of economic planning recently, he further tasked them to develop sectorial responses that addresses immediate needs as well as ensure that households and SMEs are catered for and forestall significant decline in consumer demand and business spending.
Agba stated that the economy is projected to contract by 4.4 per cent and 8.9 per cent in best and worst case scenarios respectively if no form of economic stimulus is introduced by the government
However, he noted that the federal government had moved to prevent a potential deep recession and to accelerate quick recovery of the economy by developing three broad strategies including economic stimulus package, mobilisation of external support and funding for the 2020 budget as well as increase non-oil revenue generation.
He said rather than implement some austerity measures to respond to the challenges posed by the Covi-19 pandemic, the present administration was committed to stimulating the economy to quicken its recovery.
The minister said the current intervention by the government is geared towards retaining and creating jobs, increasing productivity, ensuring social stability and addressing economic vulnerabilities as envisaged in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
He expressed satisfaction at the federal government’s total estimated stimulus package of N2.3 trillion which was recently announced adding that the monetary and fiscal policies will support states, businesses, households and individuals through grants, tax relief ,payroll support, tariff reduction and direct support to the health sector.
In his presentation titled:”Covid-19: Strategies for Quick Recovery of the Economy,” he said feedback from the CoP last engagement showed that its resolutions were receiving attention as a number of states have commenced the review of their respective 2020 budgets to align with present reality.
He said many states have also embarked on aggressive diversification of their revenue base to reduce dependence on diminishing allocations from the federation account.