President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday said the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in trying times, not just for the Nigerian people, but also for the government.
The President said the country’s revenues and foreign exchange earnings have fallen by almost 60 percent since the pandemic took hold.
Buhari’s remarks were delivered by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the start of the first-year Ministerial performance review retreat holding in Abuja.
“For the government, it has been a particularly trying time,” Buhari said. “As a result of the poor fortunes of the oil sector, our revenues and foreign exchange earnings have fallen drastically. Our revenues have fallen by almost 60 percent.
“Yet we have had to sustain expenditures, especially on salaries and capital projects, in order to keep the economy going.”
The pandemic forced many economies across the world to shut down, drastically reducing the demand for crude oil, Nigeria’s main export foreign exchange earner.
The President said his administration adopted a N2.3 trillion economic sustainability plan to mitigate the effect of the economic slowdown.
The plan, which consists of fiscal, monetary, and sectoral measures, is expected “to enhance local production, support businesses, retain and create jobs and provide succor to Nigerians, especially the most vulnerable.”
“But we have also had to take some difficult decisions to stop unsustainable practices that were weighing the economy down,” he said.
‘Government Not Insensitive’
President Buhari’s speech on Monday was delivered amid concerns raised by several groups in the country over increases in the price of fuel and electricity tariffs in the country.
“This government is not insensitive to the condition of our people and the very difficult economic situation and we will not inflict hardship on our people,” the President said.
He directed Ministers and senior administration officials to swiftly implement the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) to give succor to Nigerians.
“In this regard, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has created credit facilities (of up to N100B) for the Healthcare (N100 Billion) and Manufacturing (N1 Trillion) sectors,” Buhari said.
“From January 2020 to date, over N191.87B has already been disbursed for 76 real sectors projects under the N1Trillion Real Sector Scheme; while 34 Healthcare projects have been funded to the tune of N37.159B under the Healthcare Sector Intervention Facility.
“The facilities are meant to address some of the infrastructural gap in the healthcare and manufacturing sector as a fall out to the COVID-19 pandemic and to facilitate the attainment of the Governors 5-year strategic plan.”