Gloria Joseph-Raji
Gloria Joseph-Raji

OBINNA EZUGWU

The World Bank has said its estimates show that between 15 million and 20 million Nigerians will join the poverty rank by 2022.

World Bank Senior Economist, Gloria Joseph-Raji, who said this on Tuesday at the virtual launch of the 2021 Macroeconomic Outlook of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, a private sector-led think-tank, noted that COVID-19 hit the Nigerian economy very hard as the country experienced in 2020 its deepest recession since the 1980s and the second in five years.

She said Nigeria needs to push forward policies that help to improve the business environment and improve the welfare of the average Nigerian.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

According to her, the authorities had risen to the occasion and had taken some bold reforms in order to respond to the crisis, noting that they had tried to adopt a market-based mechanism for petroleum pricing and adjust electricity tariffs to more cost-reflective levels in order to free up fiscal resources.

She insisted, however, that more needs to be done if Nigeria really wants to make progress towards meeting its broad development goals.

She said the key priorities for the government include adopting more transparent and credible foreign exchange allocation, mobilising tax revenues in a way that does not negatively affect investments and growth, strengthening the management of monetary policies towards the primary objective of price stability.

“The 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,” she said.