Nigerians continue to struggle with the current economic situation. From fuel subsidy removal that caused an increase in fuel prices to be at an all time high to the foreign exchange not being favourable for the Naira. In response, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has threatened to embark on a nationwide strike on August 2, 2023.
But to lighten hope among Citizens, on Monday, July 31, President Bola Tinubu addressed Nigerians. And in his speech, he acknowledged that the new reforms and policies are responsible for the current hardship, but he assured everyone that these measures will eventually lead to joy for all.
But in the meantime, palliative measures will be implemented to make the lives of Nigerians easier, and these measures include:
More support for small businesses
The government recognises the role of small businesses and the informal sector in driving growth; the president pledged ₦125 billion to fund Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs).
Of this fund, ₦50 billion in grants will be given to 1 billion nano businesses between now and March 2024, and ₦50,000 each will be given to 1,300 nano business owners across the 774 local governments around the country. Also, a proposed fund of ₦74 billion is offered to support 100,000 SMEs and start-ups. Lastly, entrepreneurs can get loans between ₦500,000 and ₦1 million with a maximum interest rate of 9% annually and a repayment period of 36 months.
Infrastructure fund to help states
Tinubu’s speech also revealed that an Infrastructure Support Fund has been approved and will be available to all states. This support fund will target improving the living conditions of Nigerians and other pain points such as healthcare, education, and transportation.
Provision of affordable transportation
With the fuel subsidy removal, we’ve seen a sharp increase in the cost of public transportation, and to bring relief in this area, the federal government has plans to spend ₦100 billion purchasing 3000 twenty-seater Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fuelled buses between now and March 2024.
These buses will be distributed across local governments and states to provide a more affordable transport option for Nigerians.
Support for farming and stabilisation of food prices
Recently, we’ve been dealing with many fluctuations in the prices of goods, especially food items. And to deal with this, the government plans to ensure the affordability of food, particularly staple items like rice, by releasing 200,000 metric tonnes of grains to households across the country. Also, 225,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser and seedlings will be provided to farmers to guarantee our food security.
Lastly, the agriculture sector will be further supported with ₦200 billion to ensure the food security plan of cultivating 500,000 hectares of land and all-year planting remains on course.
New national minimum wage
A new minimum wage has been the topic of discussion for a while now. And in the speech, Tinubu assured Nigerians that the federal government has been in talks with the labour unions over introducing a new minimum wage. He also promised that workers would have a salary review once a decision had been made, along with necessary budget adjustments.
The manufacturing sector will be strengthened
The president informed us that four executive orders have been signed to suspend and defer certain taxes to boost the manufacturing sector. Additionally, there are plans to allocate ₦75 billion over the next nine months to support 75 manufacturing businesses, each with the potential to enhance economic productivity and growth.