The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has said that the COVID-19 pandemic slashed Nigeria’s oil revenue by over 40 per cent, following the nationwide lockdown.
Osinbajo also declared that the expansion of job opportunities and stimulating the economy in order to ameliorate the difficulties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic disease are the major goals of Nigeria’s fiscal and monetary policies.
Osinbajo made this declaration yesterday during a webinar conference with the theme “Focus on Nigeria: Africa Unrivalled Economic Power House,” which was hosted by the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CEIC) in conjunction with the Novare Equity Partners.
The conference, according to the CEIC, dwelt on the current responses to COVID-19.
Osinbajo, who spoke on “Sustainable Economic Growth: A Plan for Nigeria,” said: “In addition to using fiscal and monetary measures to stimulate the economy, our main objectives are to retain and create jobs and to assist vulnerable people, to support businesses and undertake infrastructural investments. And I want to say that jobs and retaining jobs, creating more opportunities tops Nigeria’s government priorities”.
He said the country’s huge informal economy also crashed during the period.
He said things were already looking up for Nigeria until the pandemic started.
He said, “There is never a good time for a pandemic but there can be a terribly wrong time.
“That’s how it seemed three months ago as COVID-19 began to ravage.
“January 2020, oil prices approached $70 a barrel for the first time since the crash of 2015/2016 which saw prices crash to sub $30 a barrel, Q3 2019 growth was 2.55 per cent, modest but clearly on the upward trajectory, three per cent growth was well in sight.
“Our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan was beginning to make sense. Work was ongoing in major rail, road and bridge projects along the main national trade corridors. The Engineering, Procurement and Construction arrangements on our Liquefied Natural Gas Train 7 which will unlock an additional 30 per cent more LNG output had commenced.
“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.”
Osinbajo, however, said it appeared silver linings have started appearing for the country.