COVID 19: FG to spend N15bn on face masks, sanitizers, others

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Factual Pursuit of Truth for Progress

The Federal Government has said it will support Nigerian owned businesses with N15 billion by off-tak-ing a number of products in a bid to keep businesses alive and create jobs.

This was disclosed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity in the Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, over the weekend.

Akande noted that the N15 billion Government Off-take Scheme (GOS) “will cover such products such as face masks, liquid soaps, disinfectants, hand sanitizers, and other processed foods and spices.”

Reports say in total, the GOS will benefit 100,000 MSMES, while an additional 100,000 Nigerians will also be benefiting from a one-off N50,000 MSME grant, different from those already paid to artisans, transport workers and separate from the payroll support.

The Presidential spokesman, while updating the media on Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) progress, equally asserted that with the recent report of the nation’s exit from recession, the implementation of the ESP would further consolidate the economy.

Commenting on the nation’s exit from recession, Akande said the development was a key indicator of the success of the ongoing ESP approved by the Federal Government. He urging people to expect more improvement in the nation’s economy as the implementation of the ESP gains more momentum,

Akande noted that from the 2020 third quarter, the economy was already on a rebound, adding that the 2020 fourth quarter figures showed that indeed the recovery of the economy was steady.

“Like we explained late last year after the release of the third quarter figures, the ESP, which was a calculated intervention by the Buhari Presidency, is driving the Nigerian economy in the right direction upwards, and Nigerians can expect more because the administration is unrelenting in its determination to pursue the steady recovery and growth of our economy,” Akande stated.

The ESP, he said, is currently entering into a more potent phase with the revving up of plans to install five million solar installations across the country and social housing plans that will result in hundreds of thousands of houses. He noted that both aspects would yield several hundreds of jobs besides giving the national economy a significant spur like never before.

He added that the Survival Fund is making waves with MSMES, artisans, transport workers, hundreds of thousands receiving cash stimulus and the payroll support where an equal number of people running into hundreds of thousands employed by businesses are collecting N50,000 monthly. He said the payroll support covers three months salaries for beneficiaries.

“Already, about 311,000 employees have received the payroll support coming from 64,000 businesses nationwide and over 165,000 artisans have also benefited from the Survival Fund. In all, the Survival Fund is on course to safeguard at least 1.3 million jobs,” he added.

Speaking further on the exit from recession, the Presidential spokesman said: “This GDP report is important for a number of reasons. It is a reflection of the growing importance of the non-oil sector, as its contribution to GDP has increased from 92.68% in Q4 2019 to 94.13% in Q4 2020.

“The non-oil sector performance was mainly driven by growth in Information and Communication, as the pandemic meant greater use of ICT services.

“Growth in Agriculture, Manufacturing, Mining, Construction, and Real Estate also contributed to the improvement of the Non-oil sector.”

The Presidency noted however that “in contrast, the oil sector fell by -19.76% in Q4 2020 (6.36% in Q4 2019) as average oil production declined to 1.5 million barrels per day (1.5mbpd).”

This can be attributed to Nigeria’s compliance with OPEC+ quotas.It was observed that the report indicates that Nigeria’s responses to the COVID- 19 induced shocks, the ESP and the timely revision of the Federal Government budget, were effective.

He noted that: “The Nigerian Economy outperformed various analysts’ expectations like the IMF and World Bank. In addition, Nigeria’s quarter-onquarter growth of 9.7% surpassed China (2.6%), USA (4%), and Japan (3%) despite these countries having larger stimulus packages.

“The Nigerian economy performed reasonably despite the earlier lockdown, trade disruptions, #End- SARS protests, and oil price volatility.”

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