By Charles Nwaoguji
Organized Private Sector (OPS) has called on Federal government to take steps through a clear Plan of Action to mitigate the negative economic impact of COVID 19 by giving zero interest rate to manufacturing sector.
According to the Managing Director/CEO of FAE limited, Princess Layo Okeowo, for government to give manufacturers zero interest rate on every loan giving to them would cushion the effects of lock down of the economy.
She said manufacturers has taken note that stringent efforts are being made to contain the spread of the deadly virus, in Nigeria and across the world.
She is of the strong view that government must equally pay attention to the potentially devastating negative economic dimension of the pandemic.
She stressed that government should strongly supports a stimulus package to support the SMEs in particular who are most hard hit by the economic impact of Covid 19.
Among other steps, she pointed out that 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, drastic reduction in the cost of governance to make the required savings and more effective and wide spread use of the National Collateral Registry for easier access to finance by the SMEs.
“I strongly recommend immediate steps for implementation of these recommendations and inclusion in action to be taken by government. State governments are equally advised to take necessary action at their own end as appropriate and against the backdrop of these recommendation,” she added.
To save the economy from collapse, Princess Okeowo said Nigeria need to salvage investments across all levels – micro, small, medium and large enterprises.
“Without investment, we cannot have jobs; aggregate demand would remain weak; government revenue would be in jeopardy as tax revenue plummets; and economic sustainability will be at risk. This underscores the imperative of an urgent rescue package for business to enable investors ride out the storms,” she explained.
Commenting on Nigeria- made- product, the managing director posited that if Nigerian manufacturers were patronized and encouraged, they would do more, expand their production capacity and employ more people.
She added that the more people were employed, the more taxes they would pay and, therefore, more revenue for the government. This, she argued, would to increased production and expansion in the Nigerian economy, leading to industrialsation of the economy.
Okeowo stated that Nigerians run to China because it is industrialised, adding that they are contributing to the development of the Chinese economy.
According to her, “Government is the biggest spender and we want it to patronise us. We do not want our stores to be filled with unsold envelopes. It should pay not lip service about “Made in Nigeria and buy made in Nigeria” campaign. Government must walk the talk and buy made in Nigeria products.”
She further called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) to be included in the Federal Government’s NEC Special Committee on COVID-19 Chaired by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, and the Presidential Task Force led by Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, in order to strengthen the mechanism for public accountability and transparency.
She urged the various authorities to allocate resources through tracking of beneficiaries of allocations and distributions through verifiable means and databases.
She noted that many advanced nations are locked down by this deadly Coronavirus. Europe is locked down, China is, America has been and Asia is locking down, adding that the huge economic implications of these lock down is enormous for these nations.
“Back home, we are yet to imagine the huge economic implications on our fragile and deteriorating economy which lacks any social welfare for the young, middle-aged, unemployed and old people of the country.”
“Big nations commit huge sums for the cure and treatment of their citizens and also for research purposes. Our budget for the coronavirus is a peanut that is not even enough for a state.
“That the National committee set up for Covid 19 in Nigeria is headed by a lawyer who is not a medical doctor for the job is not good enough. It only shows how serious we are as a nation,”she added.