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Buhari meets up with economic advisory council as COVID-19 hits harder

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President Muhammadu Buhari has met with the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) where he expressed the likely economic challenges that may come in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In spite of the probable problems, he said that he would explore all alternatives to protect Nigerians.

Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity), said in a statement in Abuja that with oil prices oscillating between twenty-nine and thirty dollars in recent times, as opposed to the fifty-seven dollars benchmark for the 2020 Budget, President Buhari said: “We will see how to survive fallen prices, as we already envisaged the problem.”

He explained that protecting the people from the vagaries of international economic fortunes, and associated fallen prices of oil, is a priority of government, “and we will do our best to do so.”

Stressing the importance of education and healthcare, the President submitted that if people were adequately educated, “they won’t accept any form of mismanagement by leadership, nor would they allow themselves to be manipulated by those promoting ethnic and religious sentiments.”

He promised that inputs in agriculture, education, and healthcare would continue as much as practicable. In his briefing, Professor Doyin Salami, leading the team of PEAC members, painted sobering scenarios of what could happen to the Nigerian economy, if the COVID-19 pandemic lasts for too long.

These include slower growth, as the supply and demand sides of the global economy would be affected, uncertainty, which would erode confidence, governments acting unilaterally instead of cooperatively, further drop in oil prices, and lockdowns gaining grounds around the world.

There would also be oil glut, trade imbalance, drop in foreign reserves and a rise in unemployment.

Noting that many countries around the world may go into economic recession, the PEAC advocated hard work for Nigeria to keep its head above the waters.

He recommended a possible revision of the 2020 Budget, with priority spending on healthcare, reprioritisation of expenditure on infrastructure and to focus on projects nearing completion with pro-poor effects.

Salami also called for curtailing recurrent expenditure, mobilising the private sector to strengthen health sector infrastructure, and boosting government revenue.

The PEAC stressed that the projections may seem dire, but the worst may be avoided with hard work and scrupulous implementation of policies.

– APA

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