The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, warned that Nigeria could enter a recession if the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) continues for the next few months.
She stated this during an interview today, where she updated the measures taken to mitigate the effect of the coronavirus on the country’s economy.
“We hope that this pandemic will be limited in time,” said the minister during the interview on Friday.
She added: “If it is an average of three months, we can close the year with positive growth. But if it takes longer than that – six months, a year – we will enter a recession. ”
According to Ahmed, the federal and state governments will face difficulties in terms of revenue, as long as the price of oil is as low as $ 30 and sub-$30 per barrel.
She explained that this is why the government was looking for alternative sources of financing in the form of budget support to boost the economy in difficult times.
As part of measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus and reduce its effect on the economy, the minister noted that President Muhammadu Buhari created the Presidential Task Force for COVID-19.
She believes that the committee, composed of the main Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and chaired by the Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF), is in charge of the task.
Ahmed also spoke about the recommendations of a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, to support Nigerians in the course of the pandemic.
Atiku had proposed distributing N10,000 to 30 million families as food supplements, reducing the price of the gas pump and suspending the stamp duty.
The former vice president also called for the provision of N1,500 free airtime for 100 million cell lines for emergency calls.
In her response, the minister said the government had followed Atiku’s recommendations, but the consequences are being considered.
The government, she said, is looking into the possibility of giving a grant and increasing the grant it is already giving to the category of Nigerians classified as poor and vulnerable.
Ahmed said: “What we are doing is ensuring that we can respond to the health crisis, because if it gets out of hand it will also have a direct impact on the economy and so far we have shown that the country is capable of responding adequately to the health crisis.
“Health units are being modernized; we found resources that we can put in to update even more. If we do not respond adequately to the health crisis, the impact on the economy will be worse. “