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Finance Minister says economy doing well despite COVID-19 challenge

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Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Dr. Zainab Ahmed, on Wednesday told State House correspondents that the economy is doing well, saying that the report released by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, has shown.

She admitted that there were disruptions ocassioned by COVID-19 pandemic, but measures have been put in place to stabilize the economy.

She explained that a memo on the second quarter GDP report which was released by the National Bureau of Statistics was presented to the Council, bearing 24th August, 2020, but couldn’t be scheduled as a result of Ministerial retreat last week.

“The GDP report shows that the economy went into negative growth of -6.10% in the second quarter but that the aggregate performance for half the year 2020 is -2. 1%. This performance of -6.10% is a good performance in the sense that it is better than what we have projected second-quarter performance to be at -7.2%.

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“This performance also is a good performance because it outperformed the projections that had been done by the Brentwood institutions. But it also outperformed very developed economies of the world and also economies that are comparable to us.

“We also reported to council that even though out of the 46 sectors of the economy, 30 of these sectors showed negative growth, but there were still some sectors that were growing on the positive territory.

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“These sectors include agriculture as well as financial services and the ICT services. This is actually showing that even during the COVID era, there were still some sectors that stood firm and indeed were growing.

“The inflation was also reported to be moving up gradually, capital importation did not dry up despite the lockdowns and the difficulties all countries experienced. But this is reflected by the significant decline in capital importation into the country.

“Exchange rate has moved up from $326 at the beginning of the quarter to $367. Again this is reflecting some of the policies that the government had to take to ensure that the economy remains in a stable condition.

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“In addition to the roll-out of the Economic Sustainability Plan, which had seen us starting to implement major public works across the country, to ensure that people are employed or kept in jobs, this ESP improve support for small businesses including payroll support so that people are not finding themselves unemployed or small businesses are not closing down.

Zainab spoke on several intervention funds such as small, medium enterprises, health sector and infrastructure, so that people can borrow.

She said the initiative was a deliberate strategy to ensure
continuous economic activities that will stabilise the economy.

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