*Directs use of local inputs for critical infrastructures henceforth
*Economic sustainable committee holds inaugural meeting
By Our Reporter
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday directed the Ministry of Finance and National Planning to prioritize payment of salaries.
He has also directed the ministry to ensure that critical infrastructure like roads, rails are protected and as much as possible, use local inputs so that the country retains value within her economy.
The President further directed that measures that protects the poor and the vulnerable are in place.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, who heads the presidential committee to review the impact of coronavirus on the economy, made the disclosure while fielding questions from State House Correspondents, Abuja.
According to her March salary has already been paid to all federal government workers.
Ahmed said the committee briefed the president on current happenings around the world due to COVID-19 and the impact on the nation’s economy.
On the directives given, Ahmed said: “well, he has directed that we should make sure that salaries are paid, make critical infrastructures like roads, rails are protected, as much as possible use local inputs so that we retain value within our economy. And also make sure that we measures that protects the poor and the vulnerable.”
On the purpose of the meeting, she said, “This meeting was just to brief Mr. President as the situation we in keeps evolving on a daily basis. As the health crisis gradually expands, affecting States and also the lockdown that has been ordered to help curtail expansion of the health crisis.
“The consequences of the lockdown is the additional slowing down the economy and the measures that we need to take to mitigate the negative consequences of the slow trade and businesses.”
Another member of the committee, Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, said the economy is not in the best of sharp due to COVID-19 and oil prices are collapsing every day, hence the need for the President to be constantly briefed.
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, said the economy is not looking as simple as everyone thought it would be.
He said: “The global economy naturally like we all know at this time will naturally suffer growth problems and may even lead to recession globally. So we are trying to see what we can do as a country to rescue our own situation so we don’t go the direction many will go.
“It is not going to be easy but we can only assure our people that we are on top of it and that we will resolve it and Nigerians will still be better for it.”
Other members of the committee are Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mela Kyari.
In a related development, the economic sustainability committee chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo held it’s inaugural meeting at the Presidential Villa Abuja.
The VP told committee members on Thursday that the mandate given by the president is to devise ways of cushioning the adverse effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.
Other members of the committee are the Minister of Finance, Minister of Trade and investment, Minister of Labour and employment, Minister of Works, as well as the minister of Humanitarian affairs.