COVID-19: Nigerians must not go hungry – Tinubu tells FG
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has urged the federal government to ensure citizens do not go hungry in the ongoing fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
This was contained in a statement signed by the APC Chieftain. He noted that it was crucial for the government to provide food for the citizenry who must not be left to rot in hunger while the government devises new strategies to tackle COVID-19.
The former Lagos state government stated that the Pandemic has presented an opportunity for the government to make history as Nigerians will never forget the crisis and the role their government played in surmounting the virus.
“We dare not underestimate the twin dangers posed by the virus itself and the economic consequences of the public health response. Our goal must be that the people live neither with disease nor in hunger. This situation presents a historic chance to establish a more beneficial social contract between the government and the governed.
“If we so utilize this moment, it will be recorded as a pivotal one in our national history. If we allow this moment to slip, history will not be obliged to treat us with great mercy.
“The worst of this dark potential can be avoided if the government is prepared to act in ways that not only feed people but protect the basic contours of our private-sector economy so that it can more quickly revive once normal conditions return.
Recommending strategies that will ensure the nation’s economy does not suffer a downward turn amid COVID-19 crisis, Tinubu wrote;
- Suspension/amendment of the 5% deficit limit of the fiscal responsibility law which prohibits fiscal deficit from exceeding 5% of the nation’s gross domestic product. “The best step would be to suspend the 5% budgetary limit for this fiscal year. Alternatively, the limit should be raised to 25-30% to allow the federal government more room to make the minimum expenditures necessary to save the economy and the people,” he wrote.
- Emergency sustenance payments: This, he said, could be paid to households for monthly needs or as emergency unemployment insurance to people who can prove they have been laid off due to the crisis or as payroll support to businesses to help them maintain staff so they can return to full operation when normalcy returns.
- Re-establishment of agricultural market and commodity boards for strategically important crops to stabilise farmers’ income and consumer prices.
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- Import suppression through luxury taxes, higher tariffs and higher import processing fees due to the partial closure of ports of entry due to the coronavirus.
- Conditional interest-free loans from the Central Bank of Nigeria to large businesses. Tinubu said some of the conditions could be maintaining their workforce and even hiring an extra 10% for two or three months at reduced wages. “These additional workers should be youth hired under a temporary internship or training program.”