The Federal Government yesterday raised hopes of an rebound for the Nigerian economy from its COVID-19 induced recession, contrary to fears that it might linger for years.
Speaking at the end of the 15th virtual Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said from the report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the Nigerian economy was running better than expected.
According to her, the Nigerian economy will begin to recover by the first quarter of 2021, adding that measures are being put in place to stabilise it and ensure it continues to run despite disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The minister said: “We presented a memo to Council in respect of the second quarter GDP report, earlier released by the National Bureau of Statistics on August 24. “Why the memo is so dated is because there was a retreat last week and we couldn’t get scheduled as well. Still for us, the information is important and topical. “The GDP report shows that the economy went into negative growth of -6.10 per cent in the second quarter but that the aggregate performance for half year 2020 is -2.1 percent. This performance of -6.10per cent is a good performance in the sense that it is better than what we have projected second quarter performance to be at -7.2per cent.
“This performance also is a good performance because it outperformed the projections that had been done by the Brentwood institutions. But it also outperformed very developed economies of the world and also economies that are comparable to us. “The US for example went into negative growth of 33 per cent for the second quarter 2020 and 19per cent half year 2020. Similarly, the UK, Canada, Italy and several countries of the world all went into very significant negative growth.
“So, Nigeria’s economy has shown some level of resilience in this level of performance.
“We also reported to Council that even though out of the 46 sectors of the economy, 30 of these sectors showed negative growth, but there are still some sectors growing in the positive territory. “These sectors include agriculture as well as financial services and the ICT services. This is actually showing that even during the COVID era, there were still some sectors that stood firm and indeed were growing. “The inflation was also reported to be moving up gradually, capital importation did not dry up despite the lockdowns and the difficulties all countries experienced. But this is reflected by the significant decline in capital importation into the country.
Earlier, while hosting the management of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) that paid her a courtesy call, the Minister had expressed optimism that the economy which was projected to slip into its worst recession in 30 years and the second in five years after the 2016 recession, would begin to recover by the first quarter of 2021.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)report showed that Nigeria’s gross domestic product shrunk by six percent in the second quarter of 2020.
In a statement signed by Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi, Special Adviser Media and Communications to the Minister, quoted Ahmed as saying the economy will recover in Q1 2021. She said the prediction is based on the minimal impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The minister urged the FIRS to do more in revenue generation in order to service government debt and implement other government activities.