Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has explained the phased re-opening of the state’s economy following the lockdown necessitated by COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that the construction and manufacturing sectors would be accorded high priority for full re-opening, given the high level of employment they generate.
Sanwo-Olu gave a breakdown of the phased re-opening at a webinar by First Securities Discount House, FSDH, Group, where Sanwo-Olu was a panelist alongside Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State and Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo.
The virtual conference, which had about 1,200 people participating across the globe, was held on the theme “A Global Pandemic: Local Realities and Peculiarities – A View from the Frontlines.”
According to him, the entertainment, hospitality and aviation industries will be considered in the second phase of intervention.
Sanwo-Olu said that the weeks of inertia in the economy also had significant impact on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs, and that millions of small-scale businesses operating in the state could completely fold up if the economy was not fully reactivated.
He said the state government was granting three-month moratorium to MSMEs that applied for loan facilities at the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, LSETF.
Sanwo-Olu also said that the government had started to compile data of registered MSMEs in the state for operational support that would cushion the effect of economic slowdown on their businesses.
His words: “The other part of our intervention is our conversation with big corporations in various sectors on the requirements they may want from us to ensure that they do not retrench their staff in this emergency period. This conversation is very important.
“The companies have given us a retinue of incentives they want us to give and these are the things that will affect the state’s Internally Generated Revenue, IGR.
“We are willing to make this sacrifice to prevent loss of livelihood for millions of our citizens.”
Sanwo-Olu said that in the course of the lockdown, the state government provided palliatives for over 800,000 households, as there was the need to bring succour to residents that lived on daily wage.
He said that people must trust the government on the management of the coronavirus and data being churned out.
He added: “Lagos has been affected both on the healthcare and economy sides. We have had to take a deep dive into our budget and have about 25 percent cut, which is not a very good number for us.
“This is the time we need to continue to spend to stave off pressure on our citizens. However, we need to be prudent at this time and cut unimportant expenditures. Salary is one thing we cannot even touch.
“In terms of direct economy, entertainment industry, hospitality, land transportation and aviation businesses have been affected significantly.
“These sectors are large employers of labour. We are thinking through on how to reset these sectors in a graduated manner and bring back the economy on the full swing.”