Nigerian govt’s inability to curb economic challenges will make 15m Nigerians poorer —World Bank
World Bank Senior Economist, Gloria Joseph-Raji, has said Nigerian government’s inability to curb economic challenges will make 15 to 20 million Nigerians poorer by 2022.
Joseph-Raji listed factors that will push more Nigerians into poverty while speaking on Tuesday at the virtual launch of the 2021 Macroeconomic Outlook of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG).
The government had planned to lift 100 million Nigerians from poverty, but the country’s economic downturn has posed a challenge which President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has found difficult to subdue.
Joseph-Raji stated that lack of jobs have prevented poor Nigerians from crossing the poverty line. She also cited low growth in the business environment as a factor driving poverty level high within the country.
The World Bank economist said high inflation had also contributed to the challenge. According to the CBN, inflation rate as at December 2020 was 15.75%. This has increased cost of living in Nigeria, as purchasing power drops amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
While commenting on the rising poverty level, Joseph-Raji said, “We actually consider Nigeria right now to be at a critical junction in the sense that the achievement of its development goal of lifting 100 million people out of poverty by 2030 was already challenging even before COVID-19 struck, and then COVID-19 has made this even more challenging and more urgent.
“So, with lower growth and fewer jobs, and then coupled with high inflation, our estimates are that the number of the poor will increase by about 15 to 20 million people by 2022 from the about 83 million people in 2019. And the 2019 numbers are from the Nigeria Living Standards Survey of 2018/2019.”
Joseph-Raji stated that the government adopted cost-reflective reforms in petroleum pricing and adjust electricity tariffs that have made fiscal resources available. But added that Nigeria’s critical point needs more bold policies to improve the business environment and the welfare of an average Nigerian.
“However, more needs to be done if Nigeria really wants to make progress towards meeting its broad development goals,” she said, while warning that Nigeria’s “outlook is very uncertain, and there is a need for the government to prioritise certain key policy reforms if Nigeria must really turn the corner and recover and rebuild resilient and inclusive growth.”
Joseph-Raji suggested more transparent and credible foreign exchange allocation should be adopted by the Nigerian government, expand tax revenue in a manner that doesn’t weigh on investment and growth.
The government was also advised to strengthen the management of monetary policies towards the primary objective of price stability.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council, Prof Doyin Salami, said to achieve economic growth which will be inclusive or felt by Nigerians, the country needs more investment
“If the economy is going to grow and people are going to feel it, then it is pretty clear that output growth must not only be rapid. We really do need to find ourselves in a position where this economy is growing at about six per cent, and to move in that direction requires significant investments.”