The federal government has commenced the execution of the sustainability measures contained in the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP). The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, stated this at a webinar organised by Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) 2020 Presidential Policy Dialogue over the weekend. He said that the ESP was developed with a stimulus package of N2.3 trillion to boost local production, prevent business collapse and provide liquidity across various sectors, especially micro, small and medium enterprises MSMEs.
Osinbajo stated: “Nigeria, like all other countries, has been quite seriously impacted in various ways by the COVID-19 pandemic, either as households or businesses, and is clear that both the pandemic and its effects would remain for a while. “The priority of the Federal Government in response to the economic challenges posed by COVID-19 is essentially to ward off a deep recession and to save jobs and this we are hoping to do by a mixture of stimulus measures to support local businesses; the essence being to retain jobs and to ensure that we create the best possible circumstances for the most vulnerable in the society. “To this end, the federal government developed the ESP with a stimulus package of N2.3 trillion to give fillip to the economy across various sectors. “The size of the stimulus is about 1.5 percent of national income or GDP. This is not as large as we would have liked it to be but it was the best we could do given existing fiscal and monetary constraints.” According to Osinbajo, ESP is replete with opportunities for MSMEs to expand their activities in manufacturing and local production and to participate in supply chain activities across various industrial and service sectors. “It recognizes nonetheless that many businesses suffered serious losses during the lockdown that was put in place to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.” He said in addition to direct procurement of pharmaceutical and health products from small businesses, ESP offers support for small businesses in sectors badly affected by the pandemic. In her remark, President of LCCI, Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, commended the federal government for the ESP measures to support vulnerable sectors and create jobs. She however said that continuous land border closure had enormous implications for cross-border economic activities. She asserted that the indefinite closure was not the solution to the problem. “These are surely not the best of times for the Nigerian economy and our businesses as the effect of COVID-19 has been very profound. The short-term outlook of the key economic indicators is not looking bright. However, we are hopeful that we would turn the corner sooner than later,” she added.