*Decries bureaucratic bottlenecks in accessing N1tr COVID-19 intervention funds
By Victor Ahiuma-Young, LAGOS
The Organised Private Sector of Nigeria, OPSN, Tuesday, in Lagos, raised the alarm that Nigeria’s economy was grappling with the worst economic growth in the country’s history.
According to OPSN, “Today, it is obvious that the Nigerian economy is challenged on many fronts and unless crucial economic reforms and political will are demonstrated, the teething problems might cripple the economy.”
OPSN comprises Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN; Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, NACCIMA; Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, NECA; Nigeria Association of Small Scale Industries, NASSI, and Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, NASME.
Briefing on behalf of the group, its Chairman and President of NECA, Taiwo Adeniyi, in a nine-point statement, lamented the bureaucratic bottlenecks at accessing the over N1 trillion COVID-19 intervention funds instituted by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to stimulate and revamp the economy through structured refinancing and loans.
Mr Adeniyi said: “Having experienced two recessions within the last five years, the economy is currently grappling with the worst economic growth in the country’s history.
“With inflation rate of 18.12 percent (as at April 2021); high unemployment of about 33.3 percent; worsening insecurity level and the negative effects of the global pandemic, the nation definitely needs to take proactive and definite steps to remain competitive and attractive to investors.
“It is alarming that the largest economy in Africa is also one of the most challenged. Nigeria, which has the world’s highest number of extremely poor citizens, is on track to set yet another record: the highest unemployment rate.
“In the list of 82 countries monitored by Bloomberg, a third of the labour force is unemployed or works just a few hours per week, second only to Namibia.
“It is important to note that Nigeria’s unemployment rate is the highest among Africa’s top 10 largest economies.
“We cannot deny that the increase in unemployment in 2020 represented a slowdown in economic activity, owing largely to global pandemic and the resultant drop in demand for oil that led to drop in oil prices.
“Over the last five years, unemployment has more than quadrupled, and the World Bank warned even before the Coronavirus pandemic that Nigeria could house a quarter of the poorest people in the world within a decade.
“Since there is no one-size-fits-all solution to salvaging an economy facing multi-faceted challenges like ours, the business community and key stakeholders in the Nigeria Project believe that the economy can still undergo an economic renaissance that will place it among the world’s top economies in order to achieve its desired goals, which will be meaningfully reflected in the well-being of its people.”
The group suggested a mix of fiscal, monetary and trade policies with political will in delivering the necessary impetus to bring the economy back on tracks.