A Political Economist, Prof Kingsley Moghalu, says the Federal Government will require about N2 trillion to provide financial assistance to poor families during COVID-19 total shutdown.
Moghalu, also a former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Awka, said that many low-income households might lose their sources of income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that the N50 billion fund established by the CBN for families and small businesses would not be adequate to address the Covid-19 crisis if and when it escalated.
“This imperative of poverty is the greatest immediate threat to curtailing the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
“Therefore, the fiscal authorities must plan and make provision for the subsistence funding of all extremely poor Nigerian families numbering approximately 100 million for 30 days in this scenario.
“If a sum of N20,000 were to be made available for every impoverished family to stock up food and supplies for a month in a Covid-19 total shutdown scenario, this would require an intervention of N2 trillion.
“Even the N10 trillion federal government budget for 2020 may not be able to carry this burden, since it is based on projections.
“This will be possible however, if the burden were to be split with state governments. Additionally, members of the National Assembly should donate 50 per cent of their emoluments to this effort, ” he said.
Moghalu called for an immediate and complete re-programming of the budgets of the federal and state governments to focus on COVID-19 in 2020.
“The budgets must be re-programmed with the exception of security and the payment of salaries, not much else should really matter now, because we are at war with an invisible enemy, “he said.
The former Deputy Governor of CBN urged the federal government to commence funding of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund with one per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund as provided in the Nigerian Health Act (2014).
He also called for an urgent fiscal reforms after the coronavirus crisis.
According to him, the nation’s economy appears headed for a second recession in four years and there is the need to diversify the economy away from crude oil.
Moghalu urged Nigerians to follow the guidelines provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control as well as government’s directives aimed at limiting the spread of Coronavirus.
He urged the federal government to use the Nigerian police and if necessary, the Nigerian Army, to enforce the measures across the country
“COVID-19 in Nigeria is an imported disease. Unfortunately, rich and poor will bear its brunt. No one of us is immune from Covid-19, and we must remain even more vigilant.
“But we must not waste this crisis. We must learn and apply its important lessons as a country, “he said. (NAN)