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COVID-19: FG warns Nigeria may slide into another recession

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said on Thursday unless Nigeria achieved a very strong third-quarter economic performance, the country could slide into another recession.

She gave the warning at the opening of a five-day interactive session on the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) held in Abuja.

Ahmed, who was represented at the forum by the Minister of State for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clement Agba, said the COVID-19 pandemic had put further pressure on Nigeria’s foreign exchange.

She said: “Nigeria is exposed to spikes in risk aversion in the global capital markets, which will put further pressure on the foreign exchange market as foreign portfolio investors exit the Nigerian market.

“Nigeria’s Q2 GDP growth is in all likelihood negative and unless we achieve a very strong Q3 2020 economic performance the Nigerian economy is likely to lapse into a second recession in four years with significant adverse consequences

“In response to the developments affecting the supply of foreign exchange to the economy, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) adjusted the official exchange rate to N360, and more recently to N379.”

The minister said the disruptions in global trade and logistics would negatively affect Customs duty collections in 2020.

READ ALSO: Finance minister speaks on what it’ll take for covid-19 to make Nigeria fall into recession

According to her, COVID-19 containment measures, although necessary, had inhibited domestic economic activities, with consequential negative impact on taxation and other government revenues.

Ahmed added: “Consequently, the projections for Customs Duty, Stamp Duty, Value- Added Tax, and Company Income Tax revenues were recently reviewed downwards in the revised 2020 budget.

“Customs Revenue has generally performed close to target over the last few years, exceeding target in 2019.

“There has been some improvement in Company Income Tax and VAT remittances. We expect significant improvements in VAT collections with the new VAT rate of 7.5 percent.”

The minister said actual revenue performance averaged 61.4 percent over the past five years, adding that some reforms were yielding positive results, with significant improvements between 2018 and 2019.

“I believe we can do more to improve revenues, especially remittances from government-owned enterprises possibly up to N1 trillion annually.

“Support of the National Assembly, by ensuring coordinated oversight, will contribute to achieving targets,” she concluded.

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