The outbreak of coronavirus has become a major threat to Nigeria’s economy, President Muhammadu Buhari has warned.
He also identified bad harvests, conflicts in global locations and tariff changes in major world economies, as other factors negatively impacting the economy.
The President’s fears are heightened by the dip in the price of oil below the $57 2020 budget benchmark.
Although the Federal Government is working hard at diversifying the nation’s economy, oil remains its mainstay.
Yesterday, Brent-crude futures, the global oil benchmark, sold at $55.28 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the main United States (U.S.) price, went for $50.75 a barrel.
Because of the outbreak of coronavirus, China, world’s biggest importer of crude oil, has cut consumption by 20 per cent.
China usually consumes about 14 million barrels a day, using oil to power machinery, fuel vehicles, and keep the lights on.
Speaking during a meeting with the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) at Aso Villa, the President said: “The economy is the most delicate and sensitive of all aspects of national life. A little change in the matrix can lead to major disruptions in the national economy. For example, international changes in oil prices, bad harvests, conflicts in strategic global locations, a major epidemic or pandemic like the current coronavirus, tariff changes in major world economies, to mention only a few examples that readily come to mind, can significantly affect our plans.”
Reacting to the macroeconomic report and the council’s views and recommendations, President Buhari decried “the lack of synergy between ministries and agencies”, saying it would no longer be accepted. He explained: “We are working for the country, not for personal interests. We have the same objective of service to the people and we will resolve this.”
The President said he was impressed with the preliminary report submitted by the council.
“I am highly pleased based on what I have read in your Executive Summary with the painstaking thoroughness of your preliminary report. I have noted the salient points of your report and these will be incorporated in government economic policies”.
President Buhari directed that the EAC should now brief him more frequently, at least once every six weeks, instead of once every quarter.
In the report presented by its chairman Prof. Doyin Salami, the Council raised concerns that the rate of the growth of the economy is slower than the rate the country’s population is growing; the need to strengthen national statistical agencies; reform procurement processes; improved education; and the need for job planning in training offered by academic institutions.