By Charles Nwaoguji
The Organised Private Sector (OPS) has commended Federal government for granting waivers for importation of raw materials by manufacturers.
They called on government to take steps through a clear Plan of Action to mitigate the negative economic impact of COVID 19 which the WHO has now declared as a Global Pandemic.
According to National President of Nigerian Association Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture ( NACCIMA), Hajiya Saratu Iya Aliyu, the OPS has taken note that stringent efforts are being made to contain the spread of the deadly virus, in Nigeria and across the world. It is however of the strong view that Government must equally pay attention to the potentially devastating negative economic dimension of the pandemic.
”This has been revealed in the drastic fall in prices of crude oil to around $32 well below the 2020 budget benchmark of $57 per barrel; and absence of market for about 50 cargo of Nigerian crude that has not found buyers as recently revealed. All these developments, according to the Minister of Finance is compelling government to undertake a review of the 2020 Budget,” Hajiya Aliyu said.
She stated that OPS strongly supports a stimulus package to support the SMEs in particular who will be most hard hit by the economic impact of Covid 19.
She said among other steps Government should consider include the following: Lowering of interest rate, enlisting the Banks to be part of the stimulus package through a favourable interest rates and drastic reduction in the cost of governance to make the required savings.
She said that more effective and wide spread use of the National Collateral Registry for easier access to finance by the SMEs.
”We strongly recommend immediate steps for implementation of these recommendations and inclusion in action to be taken by Government,” she said.
She equally advised State governments to take necessary action at their own end as appropriate and against the backdrop of these recommendations.
She commended the Federal government for setting up of the Nigerian Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19.
“This private Sector Coalition is designed to mobilise private sector resources, increase general public awareness and secure the buy-in of the private sector to support government efforts. It is however necessary to make this Private Sector Coalition more inclusive and embrace the entire Organised Private Sector of Nigeria,” she added
She called on the OPS members to continue to work to deal with the crisis and make their own contribution to the fight against the spread of the disease no matter how little.
For emphasis, She implored all OPS members to practice social distancing effectively at this time, as this is the surest way to curb the spread of COVID-19 virus.