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Coronavirus: Governors call for debt restructuring to ease economic strain due to pandemic

The Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) on Friday, April 3; called for urgent fiscal measures to safeguard the liquidity of state governments by restructuring debt service payments, among other measures; as the country grapples with the impact of the coronavirus.

The appeal comes after a briefing from the minister of finance, budget, and national planning, Zainab Ahmed.

In a statement, the forum said it had also been briefed by the minister of humanitarian affairs; Sadiya Umar Farouq on stimulus incentives from the federal government to help vulnerable households across states cope with the expected loss of income and livelihoods in coming months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Governors committed to leading the effort through state focal persons in charge of social protection to ensure that palliatives; including food and cash transfers reach the most vulnerable population in all states,” the NGF said.

Members of the forum also discussed the legality or otherwise of lockdowns in states around the country and resolved to maintain the status quo; until the chairman and governor of Ekiti state, Kayode Fayemi discusses the issue with the presidential committee on COVID-19.

“Members also resolved to leverage on the lockdown situations to send essential food items across borders as part of the palliatives; so that perishables produced in one state get to states that need them unhindered,” the governors said.

Furthermore, Ahmed said President Muhammadu Buhari had been briefed on current developments around the world related to the coronavirus and the impact on Nigeria’s economy; and had since disclosed measures that would be put into place in mitigation.

“He has directed that we should make sure that salaries are paid; make sure that critical infrastructures like roads, rails are protected; and as much as possible use local inputs so that we retain value within our economy,” Ahmed said.

“The consequences of the lockdown are the additional slowing down of the economy. We are also to consider the measures that we need to take to mitigate the negative consequences of the slow trade and businesses,” she added.

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