Conservative estimates suggest that Covid-19 may be with us for at least 3 months while the worst-case scenario could be up to 18 months. Whatever the estimates, one thing is certain, when we finally get rid of coronavirus, the economic impact would linger for perhaps twice as long. Our ability to cope with the attendant challenges will depend on how we respond now to prevent a free fall rather than trying to stop it once it has started.
There have been a number of interventions from various government quarters ranging from the adjustment to the 2020 budget, the stimulus package by the CBN, the downward adjustment of the pump price of petrol, reliefs announced by the FIRS and the "Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill" introduced by the National Assembly.
The measures so far introduced will help to a great extent but not enough. Some of them appear unhelpful or may be at a much greater cost than the attendant benefits. Although most of the interventions are by design short term or temporary in nature, government should nonetheless use this opportunity to make some long-term decisions that are necessary to improve the country's preparedness to deal with future economic challenges. For instance, government should use this opportunity to fully deregulate the price of petrol.
Nigeria's economic challenges predate the Covid-19 pandemic. Beyond the humanitarian crisis posed by the virus, the economic impact is just as important. Any policy response being introduced needs to be evidence-based rather than a trial prescription program which could worsen the crisis. Ultimately, the crisis presents another opportunity for reforms which should not be wasted.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.