COVID-19 Containment and ESP Implementation Key for Nigeria's Economic Recovery - Prof. Akpan Ekpo


Monday, January 11, 2020 / 10:00AM / Ottoabasi Abasiekong for WebTV / Header Image Credit: WebTVNG

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The Federal Government's management of the COVID-19 pandemic from containment strategies, roll out of vaccines, guaranteeing the security of the nation from insurgency, and the implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), will be critical to Nigeria's recovery from an recession. Professor Akpan Ekpo an economist and public policy analyst said this at in a recent discussion on Nigeria's Fiscal strategy in 2021.


According to him the stabilization of the nation's economy and the ability to attract new investments hinged primarily on an improved security situation in the country and the appropriate fiscal incentives. He emphasized the need for the Federal Government to give priority to fiscal incentives for small businesses, mid-sized companies and young entrepreneurs who were innovative and talented.


Looking at the 2021 budget of roughly  N13.6trn he expressed concerns over the huge size of debt servicing which was for the fiscal year N3.3trn, stressing the need for effective implementation of the January to December budget cycle with special attention being paid to debt management.


He called on the fiscal authorities to strengthen the policy framework in a way that would ensure that the country does not return to the era of ballooning debts, which was the experience of the country before 1999.


The economist lauded the Economic Sustainability Plan which focuses on Mass Housing, Solar/Renewable Energy Provisions, Information and Communications Technology, MSME support amongst others but called for its speedy implementation, to reflate the economy.


In the area of monetary policy, he acknowledged the role the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to support the economy, but insisted that there should be alignment with fiscal policy.


Professor Ekpo alluded to the fact that Nigeria's budget 2021 should provide effective support for households, as was the case in western countries like the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan.


He stressed the fact that the execution of capital projects in the budget covering the infrastructure in 2021, would go a long way in opening up more economic opportunities for Nigerians and attract more foreign direct investment (FDI).


Speaking further on the budget, he called on the fiscal authorities to explore how the country could move towards achieving a non-oil budget economy or what amounts to a situation that de-emphasizes the crude oil benchmark.


Considering the current state of dependence on crude oil as the major revenue earner in the country, the scholar noted that the 2021 international oil price will be critical to the economy. According to him if it remains around US$50 price it would have beneficial impact.


He joined other economists, analysts, technocrats and NGOs to call on the Federal and State Governments to think seriously about cutting down their respective overhead costs in the 2021 fiscal year.


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