The World Bank Group has tasked Nigeria to sustain its bold reforms for containing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to attain inclusive economic growth.
Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria said this in Abuja, at the media conference on the presentation of the World Bank Nigeria Development Update (NDU) for December.
The report titled “Rising to the Challenge: Nigeria’s COVID response” takes stock on the recently implemented reforms and proposes policy options to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and foster a resilient, sustainable and inclusive recovery.
Chaudhuri said Nigeria was at a critical historical juncture, with a choice to make.
“Nigeria can choose to break decisively from business-as-usual and rise to its considerable potential by sustaining the bold reforms that have been taken thus far and going even further and with an even greater sense of urgency to promote faster and more inclusive economic growth.”
According to him, the report projects that the economy could shrink up to four per cent in 2020 following the twin shocks of COVID-19 and low oil prices.
However, the pace of recovery in 2021 and beyond remains highly uncertain and subject to the pace of reforms.
He added that the pandemic was disproportionately affecting the poor and most vulnerable, women in particular.
Marco Hernandez, World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria said that Nigeria could build on its reform momentum to contain the spread of COVID-19, stimulate the economy and enable the private sector to be the engine of growth and job creation.
“It can also redirect public spending from subsidies that benefit the rich towards investments in Nigeria’s people and youth in particular and lay foundations for a strong recovery to help make progress towards lifting 100 million people out of poverty.”
While presenting the report, he said that in the absence of measures to mitigate the impact of the crisis, the number of poor could increase by 15 to 20 million by 2022.