National leader of Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, has advised the Federal Government on how to navigate the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
He recommended the suspension or amendment of per cent per cent deficit limit of the fiscal responsibility law, emergency sustenance payments, re-establishment of agricultural market and commodity boards, lowering of interest rates to single digit, and pushing for debt relief.
The former governor of Lagos State commended the measures taken so far as regards public health response to the pandemic, describing it as prudential.
He noted that, had such steps not been taken, “the toll of the pandemic might rival the Asian flu, which took over one million people, or worse.”
While hailing the public health measures, he regretted their economic consequences as brutal enough to place a large number of people in jeopardy.
“We face a compromise between the coronavirus and possible deprivation,” he added.
Families, according to him, should not be made to go through this difficult time without any relief, absence of which will result in hunger and suffering.
Tinubu admitted that the private sector had been affected by the COVID-19 crisis and suggested that the Central Bank of Nigeria should lend large amounts of virtually non-interest loans to businesses on the condition of maintaining existing payrolls.
“The price of imports per unit has become dearer. Thus, wise policy suggests limiting our imports during this emergency in order to save hard currency and protect the exchange rate.
“Nigeria’s private-sector can be divided into three broad sectors: agriculture, service and industry. Each sector has been affected by this crisis, but with different degrees of severity and, in some instances, in entirely different ways.
“The money-less family still needs food, water, shelter and, to a lesser degree, utilities, in a compassionate society, they should not be made to do without. Most families need relief. If relief is not forthcoming, these families risk hunger and its attendant suffering and woes,” he offered.
Other measures suggested by the APC power broker include giving conditional interest-free loans to businesses that are ready to maintain their workforce or even hire more, facilitating movement of farm produce from the farm straight to the market, maintenance and expansion of the school feeding programme and diplomatic push for debt relief.