COVID -19: Prof. Urges FG To Leverage Digital Platforms To Launch e-Economy

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Prof. Seth Akutson of the Economics Department, Kaduna State University, on Tuesday, urged the Federal Government to leverage available digital platforms to launch a new digital economy (e-economy).

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This, he said, would keep businesses and economic activities floating.

Akutson stated this in an economy brief entitled:  “COVID-19 Pandemic and the Way Forward for Nigeria: Policy Options and Strategic Initiatives,” made available to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna.

He said the measure became necessary to save the economy from total collapse, due to the negative impact of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, leading to shutdown of many businesses.

He also called for the revitalisation of the Nigerian education curriculum to accommodate online and digital skills necessary for the operation of an e-economy.

He noted that COVID -19 pandemic had come with unprecedented challenges that would remain with the global community in many years to come.

According to him, most countries, particularly developing economies like Nigeria, will undoubtedly go into recession if not depression as a result of the sharp drop in global oil demand and prices.

“There is also the suspension of production as a fallout of the lockdown; increased fiscal spending, dwindling revenue and income as well as debts overhang.

“However, a nation’s economy can build some bulwarks to mitigate the damaging effect of the pandemic and revitalise its economy back to growth trajectories.

“Key macroeconomic indicators that are already in the red,  must be tinkered with using appropriate fiscal and monetary policies to ensure that Nigeria’s quest for accelerated economic recovery do not drag,” he said.

The university don stressed on the urgent need to diversify the monolithic economy with emphasis on non-oil sectors with a single digit interest rate, to boost production for manufacturing industries.

He also advocated for exchange rate regime that would protect and support local industries, as well as fiscal growth stimulus that would hasten the velocity of economic activities.

“The federal government should also create a favorable business operating environment policy framework, to boost small businesses and generate massive employment.

“Similarly, while printing of currency will further exacerbate the high inflation rate currently being experienced, the Central Bank should come up with appropriate monetary policy regime that will suppress inflation to a single digit and ensure price stability.

“Government should increase consumption capacity with needed fiscal policy through massive government spending and tax incentives for citizens and small businesses.

“The government should also block every budgetary leakage and spending profligacy by embarking on strict financial frugality,” he said.

According to him, all capital projects that consume funds needed to reboot the now docile economy should be suspended immediately.

The don further called on the federal government to address recurrent expenditure, particularly the huge overheads on political office holders and boost agricultural production and food supply through incentives to farmers.

He also called for the supply of subsidised fertiliser and a strong development finance for manufacturers to cover for lost ground arising from substantial food consumption during the lockdown without corresponding supplies.

“The government should aggressively deal with poverty by engaging the citizenry in self-employment drive and business development as the ‘hand-out’ approach will not work in the long run.

“With all these in place, I firmly believe, Nigeria will be the Dubai of Africa in no distant time,” he said.

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