The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said the Federal Government has so far released N285 billion for the 2020 capital projects. Ahmed also said that the government has paid the counterpart funding of $220 million to the China EXIM Bank for railway projects. This claim can’t be independently verified.
Speaking to newsmen after submitting the interim report of the Presidential Committee set up to review the impact of the Coronavirus to President Buhari, she explained that the committee has been tasked to ensure that the business of government continues despite the disease’s effect on the economy. She explained that the N285 billion released on capital projects was for critical infrastructure, adding that the government, for now, would prioritise spending.
On how much the government has released for capital projects on the 2020 budget, she revealed that so far, N285 billion has been released to some ministries and agencies on infrastructure. On whether the country was considering banning international flights especially to Europe and China that has become a trade partner to Nigeria to avoid the wide spread of the disease, she said, “That’s a decision that would be normally by the medical team if they feel Nigeria’s risk will be too escalated if flights are banned. As far as I know, the assessment of the Nigerian Medical team is not yet available and as far as I know, the international community has been commending the efforts of the Nigerian medical team in trying to protect Nigerians from being infected with this disease. In terms of the volume of trading, China is one of our largest trading partners. So, even though COVID-19 is just one of the two cases that have been imported here, we feel the impact in the economy because of the trade volume.
But we have seen already China beginning to go back to work. Of course, there’s a lag period for what has happened. Already, the crude oil period has moved from $30 per barrel to $36 per barrel. So, there will be recovering. But for us, in every thing, when something crashes, the recovery is not as fast as the recovery itself.”