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COVID-19: Pay Nigerians through BVN, Tinubu tells FG

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APC National Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and President Muhammadu Buhari

A national leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, has urged the Nigerian government to make cash payments to households through Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) as palliative.

The former Lagos state governor said the move would help cushion the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on Nigerians.

Mr Tinubu gave the advice in a statement issued in Lagos on Wednesday.

He argued that the government can make direct deposits into individual bank accounts using the BVN of prospective recipients.

The APC leader said the use of BVN would also be safer and prevent violence and crime that may be the attendant consequence of physical cash transfers.

Mr Tinubu said the move would help deepen financial inclusion as it would encourage those without bank accounts to open accounts.

The money-less family still needs food, water, shelter and, to a lesser degree, utilities, the statement said. In a compassionate society, they should not be made to do without, it added.

Mr Tinubu noted that: “Most families need relief. If relief is not forthcoming, these families risk hunger and its attendant suffering and woes.”

Economic Effect

Arguing further, Mr Tinubu said the measures would help address hunger, maintain aggregate demand in the domestic economy and help sustain private-sector markets to the extent possible.

“First, we can designate a stipend for every household. The amount should be enough to pay for the monthly needs of an ‘average’ household for food and other basics,” Mr Tinubu said.

“While this may somewhat penalise larger families, perfection cannot be had at this time.

“Second, the stipends could be given as a form of emergency unemployment insurance to those who can prove they were relieved of employment due to the crisis.

“This will be more targeted at the actual victims of the crisis but harder to administer. This stipend will also have to be extended to owners of small and medium-sized businesses.

“Third, the government can render some form of payroll support to companies and businesses that seek to retain workers albeit they may not be fully employed.

“The stipend can help companies stay in operation while maintaining workers on their payroll. By maintaining workers, the company can more swiftly return to full operation when normalcy returns.”

Other Measures 

To address shocks on the economy, Mr Tinubu called for the re-establishment of commodity boards for strategically important crops to maintain adequate supply of food and ensure price stability.

The boards would specify a guaranteed minimum-maximum price range for these crops in order to maintain and stabilize farm incomes as well as consumer prices, he said, adding that the country faces a “trade-off between certain pandemic and possible widespread deprivation”.

He also urged the government to expand the school feeding programme to many states consistent with applicable public health measures “because it will not only help feed the most vulnerable children, it will create extra jobs and bolster food production and farm incomes.”

Mr Tinubu called on African finance ministers to join a coordinated effort for debt forgiveness. He also urged the World Bank and other DFIs to agree to a wholesale debt rollover by reducing the interest rate burden of African nations by at least one half.

He also urged the CBN to lower interest rates to single digits to spur some private sector and lower the charge on government deficit spending.

Mr Tinubu said that activating Trader-moni and other programmes would help many small-scale traders “but not the average wage earner who just lost his job”.

Earlier, PREMIUM TIMES reported how two ministers listed the measures the government would use to screen beneficiaries of government’s financial palliative during the lockdown. Isa Pantami, the communication minister, said Nigerians who top-up less than N300 monthly would be considered while humanitarian affairs minister, Sadiya Farouq, said Nigerians with a balance less than N5,000 in their accounts would be considered. (PREMIUM TIMES)

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