The Minister for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has warned that Nigeria might go into another round of recession if the Coronavirus disease persists beyond the next 6 months.
The Minister stated this during her appearance on a monitored programme, Politics Today on Channels Television, where she gave an update on various measures taken by the Federal Government to mitigate the effects of coronavirus on the nation’s economy.
According to Ahmed, “We are hopeful that this pandemic will be limited in time,” the minister said during the interview on Friday.”
She added that, “If it is an average of three months, we should be able to close the year with positive growth. But if it goes longer than that – six months, one year – we will go into recession.”
[READ MORE: Another crushing recession ‘is coming’)
Ahmed pointed out that the Federal and the State governments would struggle in terms of revenue, as long as the crude oil price is as low as $30 or below $30 per barrel.
The minister said that as a result of the low crude oil prices, government was looking for alternative sources of funding in the form of budget support to boost the economy towards the trying times.
Going further, she noted that President Muhammadu Buhari set up the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, chaired by the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) as part of measures to curtail the spread of coronavirus.
On the former vice president, Atiku Abubakar’s recommendations that N10,000 should be distributed to 30 million households as foodstuff supplements, reduction of pump price of petrol and suspension of stamp duty and also provision of N1,500 free airtime to 100 million mobile phone lines for emergency calls, the minister said that government had taken note of his recommendations.
She said government would look at the consequences, the possibility of giving out stipend and also increase the stipend that its already giving to the poor and vulnerable Nigerians.
Ahmed said, “What we are doing is to make sure that we are able to respond to the health crisis because if it gets out of hand, it has also a direct impact on the economy and we have so far shown that the country is able to respond adequately to the health crisis.
“Health facilities are being upgraded; we have found resources that we can put to also further upgrade. If we don’t respond adequately to the health crisis, the impact on the economy will be worse.”