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Recession will be fleeting: FG

The Federal Government has reassured Nigerians that the latest economic recession would be short-lived.just as the Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said the country’s exit from the recession is not feasible during this first quarter of the year but hopefully in the second or third quarter if the federal and state governments do the right things at the right time. 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the assurance on Monday in Lagos at a New Year media briefing.

According to him, the Federal Government has taken several steps to ensure that the country does not   go into the worse decline of the economy and alleviate the negative consequences of the pandemic

His words:“The latest recession in Nigeria will be short-lived, and Nigeria will return to positive growth soon, unlike the 2016 recession which lasted five quarters.

“This is because of several complementary fiscal, real sector and monetary interventions proactively introduced by the government to forestall a far worse decline of the economy and alleviate the negative consequences of the pandemic’’.

To justify the position, Mohammed said that as the year 2020 was rounding off, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) was named the best-performing stock market among the 93 equity indexes being tracked by Bloomberg across the world.

“The all-share index, which opened at 38,800.01, moved up by 310.16 points to close at 39,110.17 – crossing the 39,000 mark.

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“The market capitalisation rose by N167 billion to close at N20.446 trillion. Returns are currently at 45.7 percent; the best annual return since 2013,’’ he said.

He said the oil sector was largely responsible for the slowdown in economic activities in the third quarter of 2020 as it recorded a sharp contraction of -13.89 per cent year-on-year.

The reason for the decline, according to him, was the slowdown in global economic growth and oil demand due to the pandemic.

He said Nigeria’s obligations to meet OPEC cuts were principally responsible for the slowdown in the performance of the oil sector.

On the non-oil sector, Mohammed said though it also contracted in the third quarter of 2020, the decline in the sector by -2.51 per cent year-on-year was significantly better when compared to the second quarter of the same year.

But the LCCI Director General, Muda Yusuf, during the Channels TV Business morning program on “Expectations From Business Community in 2021”,  said Nigerian business environment is still hostile from all indices hence the need for the government to act fast to secure investors confidence. 

Acccording to him, creation of conducive economic environment is important for any meaningful development.  “COVID-19 taught us a lot, now the president has pledged to resuscitate the economy, improve security among others, but the economy cannot improve  where the environment is not secured for investors. The Sea Ports need to be fixed and an unbiased independent dispute Resolution System must be established to settle issues between the Nigeria Customs officers and importers/ ports operators,”  Yusuf said.

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He stressed the need to give top priority to youth development to address youth restiveness, he called on the federal and state governments to swing into action in doing what they vowed to do regarding giving the people a better life.

He added: “The president has spoken, but it’s not over yet, we need commitment, we need actions especially in the upstream and downstreams oil sector. If the proposed reforms in a secured environment are sustained, more investors will come. There is also need to normalise the foreign exchange market by a market driven exchange rate.

“Moreso, there is need for capacity building in the ports, some of the activities of Nigeria Customs Officers are frustrating because they are mainly chasing revenue. To get AFCFTA working as expected, there must be sound institutional and’ commitment to enforce the rule and terms of origin of products, failure to do that is the biggest risk of AFCFTA.

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