Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Thursday said the Economic Sustainability Committee has received projections that the number of unemployed people may rise to 39.4 million by the end of 2020, if the government does not take prompt measures.
Osinbajo stated this when he presented the committee’s report to President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa. He said the National Bureau of Statistics also projects that the country would have a revenue shortfall of N185 billion monthly with oil prices at $30 a barrel.
The committee was saddled with the responsibility of developing a credible sustainability plan for repositioning the Nigerian economy pre and post COVID-19 crisis period.
“Several projections, including those done by the NBS on behalf of the economic sustainability committee, showed a severe downturn in our oil earnings, as a result of which, even with oil price at $30 a barrel, we would still have a shortfall of about N185 billion every month, in the amount available for allocation to the three tiers of government.
“That unemployment may rise to 33.6 percent or about 39.4 million people by the end of 2020 if we fail to take prompt preemptive measures; that millions more will fall extreme poverty before the pandemic ends; that GDP may fall to between minus 4.40% and minus 8.91%, depending on the length of the lockdown period and strength of our economic response,” the vice president said.
Osinbajo said the committee decided to focus on encouraging local production and innovation while emphasising the use of local materials.
He said: “We have therefore recommended that we must carry out mass programmes that create jobs and utilise local materials. Such will include a mass agricultural programme, which is expected to bring between 20,000 and 100,000 hectares of new farmland under cultivation in every state of the federation and create millions of direct and indirect job opportunities.
“Extensive public works and road construction programme focusing on both major and rural roads and using locally available materials like limestone, cement and granite.
“Mass housing programme to deliver up to 300,000 homes annually, engaging young professionals and artisans who form themselves into small and medium scale businesses within the construction industry, using indigenous labour and materials.
“Installation of solar home system, targeting five million households, serving about 25 million individual Nigerians who are currently not connected to the national grid.
“The provision of ample support for the informal sector through low-interest loans and by easing procedures for registration, licensing, obtaining permits, etc.”
To ensure proper implementation, the committee recommended that ministers be responsible for supervising implementation in their ministries.
In his remarks, Buhari commended Nigerians for adapting to the realities of the pandemic.
“This has been a trying time for those in the informal sector, which constitutes a large part of our economy, important family celebrations were held without the presence of loved ones, schools are closed and parents have had to resort to homeschooling in addition to juggling other responsibilities.
“Despite all these, Nigerians have done their best and persevered. I must salute Nigerians for their resilience in adapting to the realities of the COVID-19 effect while also recognising the superhuman effort of our frontline health workers,” the president stated.
He also commended the committee for completing their assignment in good time.