Vice President Yemi Osinabjo disclosed that the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) helped mitigate the shock of COVID-19, but also took the opportunity to try to tackle longstanding structural challenges while repositioning the economy for the future. The Vice President disclosed this on Monday, at the two-day Mid-Term Ministerial Performance Review retreat, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, where the Vice President delivered the progress report on the ESP implementation.

He stressed that the plan worked on nine key priorities of the Buhari administration, in a bid to mitigate the shock of COVID-19, but also took the opportunity to try to tackle longstanding structural challenges while repositioning the economy for the future.

What the Vice President said

Osinbajo disclosed that due to the global pandemic, there were sharp declines in some key sectors: Transportation sector declined by 49%, Hospitality sector fell 40%, the Education sector fell 24%, Real Estate declined by 22%, Trade declined by 17% and Construction declined by 40%. However, since the ESP implementation began, which was credited as a major reason why Nigeria exited recession faster than predicted, data showed that these sectors have rebounded to positive growth, stating, “Transportation to 77%, Hospitality to 2%, Education to 1%, Real Estate to 4%, Trade to 23%, and Construction to 4%.”

“In response (to the pandemic), the President took two actions. The first was to set up a small inter-ministerial Committee headed by the Minister of Finance to quickly examine the implications and the immediate mitigation steps that would be taken for the economic shocks we were experiencing. The second step which Mr President took was to ask that we draw up a full Economic Sustainability Plan to provide at least a 12-month response to the fallout of the pandemic. And Mr President asked me to chair the Committee to draw up the plan and later to implement it.

“We were clear – and this was Mr President’s position – that the only way of avoiding an economic disaster that could last for years was for government to essentially put forward a major fiscal stimulus plan; with clear objectives of saving jobs, creating new ones, supporting businesses that may close down, and employees that may not be paid during lockdowns, and, of course, healthcare support to reduce the COVID-19 caseload.”

He also revealed that the first objective of the ESP was improved Healthcare and lowering the COVID-19 caseload, the second was restoring growth; the third – job creation and safeguarding existing jobs; the fourth – increased local production, and part of that was what we called the Guaranteed Offtake Scheme; the fifth was reducing social vulnerabilities, and that essentially was looking at how to improve the quality and effectiveness of the Social Investment Programme and the scope of the programme.

What you should know

Recall Nairametrics reported in June that President Muhammadu Buhari praised Nigeria’s effort in exiting the recession, citing the successful execution of the Economic Sustainability Plan, launched by the FG to tackle the effects of the Covid pandemic on the economy.

“The Economic Sustainability Plan, our plan for the covid pandemic, is currently being executed, the plan is primarily focused on the non-oil sector which has recorded phenomenal growth, contributing over 90% to GDP growth in q1 2021,” the President said, adding that although marginal, Nigeria recorded GDP growth over 2 quarters, an evidence of the successful execution of the Economic Sustainability Plan by the federal government.

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