World Bank Economist Highlights Measures for Nigeria’s Recovery from COVID-19

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World Bank’s Chief Economist for Africa, Mr. Albert Zeufack

Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

The World Bank Chief Economist for Africa, Albert Zeufack, has propounded a series of recommendations on the kind of responses that Nigeria should make to help its recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was disclosed yesterday by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, when presenting a recap of the day one of the first year ministerial performance review retreat at the State House in Abuja.

Zeufack, who offered the tips through virtual electronic platform, presented scenarios of the impact of COVID-19 on key indices of the Nigerian economy as basis for recommendations on the responses to the pandemic. The title of his paper was: ‘Experience sharing on driving growth in a crisis: Lessons learnt’.

Using robust data and analytics, the World Bank Chief Economist highlighted areas other countries in similar situation are focusing on in addressing the impact of the pandemic on lives, livelihood and the future, and which Nigeria should learn from.

He gave several recommendations, including strengthening the foundations for productivity, growth and private investment; investing in creating quality jobs; improving spending on agriculture and seizing the opportunity for industrialisation.

Zeufack advised the federal government to follow the three ‘I’s namely: Investment, Integration and Inclusion, while also emphasising that digital is no longer a luxury, and ensuring economic recovery before ramping up taxes. He also noted that faster implementation is key to ensure collaboration, coordination, and continuing macro reforms.

The breakout sessions along the nine-priority areas had in attendance all the ministers, permanent secretaries and heads of some agencies, where they brainstormed on four themes: ‘Alignment on defining KPIs and annual targets for priority areas and mandate deliverables; prioritised initiatives within mandate deliverables and the Economic Sustainability Plan that can be synergised to create multiplier effect; agreed structure for a coordinated approach to delivery and resolutions to accelerate delivery.

The first Technical Session on Experience Sharing-on driving growth in a crisis-was delivered by former United Kingdom Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

Blair, who gave insights on lessons for leading in crisis, emphasised the four most critical elements that universally apply to all leaders who want to make a difference against all odds.

He listed the combination of 4Ps namely: Priority, Policy, Personnel, and Performance Management as proven levers that leaders in Africa and the world have employed for effective governance.

He also emphasised the need to address corruption in governance as well as for the leader to ensure that technocrats are in charge of critical priorities, stating that constant attention of the leader is required to drive the 4Ps while governance is the main differentiator among countries.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, thereafter, presented the Economic Sustainability Plan as Nigeria’s response to keeping the country afloat amid the global crisis caused by COVID-19. Osinbajo described the economic sustainability plan, which was introduced 68 days ago, as a time-based plan, which any delay in its implementation would be catastrophic.

He projected relevant data that showed that the country was indeed facing difficult times with the COVID-19 impact on key sectors ranging from a contraction of -17 per cent in trade to -83 per cent for the retail daily shoppers, while also indicating that the main thrust of the economic recovery plan is focused on mitigating the shock, tackling vulnerabilities, job intensive interventions, rescuing businesses, and repositioning the economy.

While making his concluding remarks yesterday, Mustapha said the various presentations, strategic viewpoints and thought-provoking suggestions would help the current administration to deliver on the nine priorities of the government for the next two to three years.r.