The Federal Government must think creatively and come up with ways of stabilising the Nigerian economy in the face of the negative economic impact of the Covid-19, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila has said.
The Speaker said the House had on Tuesday passed the Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill, 2020 to complement the plans of the Executive arm.
Gbajabiamila spoke at a meeting between the leadership of the National Assembly and some top government officials, including the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and other heads of agencies.
The Speaker said: “You are all aware that the House of Reps, and hopefully it will be the National Assembly, passed the Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill, 2020, which in our opinion goes further to complement what the Executive is doing, in terms of addressing the needs of the common man.
“The tax rebate, the mortgage moratorium for three months and the reduction in duties on medical supplies that have to do with coronavirus, I’m sure Senate may reconvene at some point to pass this. Even though it is not law yet, it has come to the Senate, since some members of the Executive arm are here to have this signed quickly into law.”
Gbajabiamila added that the “meeting is very timely and very important because we live in very unusual times, and it is time we start thinking outside the box to see how we can stabilise our economy and the direction it is going to take. Where the government needs to take a haircut or a hit, it most definitely will, these are the sacrifices that we need to make.”
While welcoming stakeholders at the meeting to consider government interventions to cushion the negative economic impact of Covid-19 on the country’s economy, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said the meeting was necessary due to the difficult circumstances facing the country.
He said both chambers had adjourned on Tuesday but agreed to reconvene at any time if there was an urgent need for that.
Lawan said the meeting was to deliberate on the proposed review of the 2020 Budget in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In her remarks, Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, applauded the House for initiating and passing the Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill, 2020.
She said: “The Federal Government is working on these measures to provide fiscal relief for taxpayers and key economic sectors, and I am happy with what the Speaker mentioned.
“It seems we are working on the same path; we also have to look at incentives that employers can give to retain staff so that they don’t disengage staff and also to recruit new staff during this difficult time.”