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March 9, 20203min810

Buhari set up economic committee on Coronavirus

Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed has just announced President Muhammadu Buhari has announced n economic committee on Coronavirus.

She disclosed this while briefing newsmen after a meeting with the president at the State House.

She was flanked by Timipre Sylva, Minister of State, Petroleum Resources.

She said, “We just met with the President to discuss the matter of the impact of the Coronavirus on our economy and Mr President has formed us into a committee, with the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, the Central Bank Governor, the GMD NNPC and myself as members.

“Our mandate is to make a quick assessment of the impact of this Coronavirus on the economy, especially as it affects the crude oil price.

“We will be writing a report and brief Mr President tomorrow or Wednesday morning and after that we’ll also have more substantial information for the press.

“But it is very clear that we will have to revisit the crude oil benchmark price that we have of $57 per barrel, we have to revisit it and lower the price. Where it will be lowered to is the subject of the work of this Committee.

“What the impact will be on that is that there will be reduced revenue to the budget and it will mean cutting the size of the budget. The quantum of the cut is what we are supposed to assess as a committee.

“This is just an initial update to inform you on the directives that we have and subsequently we will be sending a report to the President, after which we will be briefing the press on the actions that government will be taking.”

Speaking amid Sharp drop in the prices of oil at the international market and the effect on Nigerian economic as it concerns the budget,  Sylva said, “On the issue of engaging Russia, we as a member of OPEC are not in a position to take that engagement on our own unilaterally.

“There was a disagreement between OPEC and OPEC+, it’s not just Russia, but the biggest producers within OPEC and OPEC+ are Saudi Arabia and Russia.

“We believe that in the coming days when all of us would have begun to see effect of the reduction of prices, OPEC and OPEC+ might need to meet again and reconsider our positions.

“Meanwhile, we expect also that a lot of discussions are going on at the level of Saudi Arabia and Russia, but as Nigeria, we are not in a position to begin to engage members on this matter.”

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