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Nigeria's economy to contract by 8.9% this year in worst case: finance minister - REUTERS

MAY 21, 2020

BY  Felix Onuah


ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria’s economy could shrink as much as 8.9% in 2020 in a worst case scenario without stimulus, Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed said on Thursday, a deeper recession than forecast after oil prices plunged due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ahmed told the country’s highest economic policy advisory body, the National Economic Council, that the contraction could reach 4.4% in a best case scenario, without any fiscal measures.

With stimulus, the contraction can be mitigated and the economy could shrink by 0.59%, she said.

The coronavirus outbreak and an oil price plunge have magnified headwinds for the Nigerian economy, which relies on crude sales for government revenues, triggering an historic decline in growth, creating large financing needs and weakening the naira.

The finance minister said Nigeria had over 6,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus which could rise to almost 300,000 by the end of August. So far only 200 people have died from the outbreak.

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“40% of the population in Nigeria, today, are classified as poor. The crisis will only multiply this misery,” Ahmed told the council via a virtual meeting.

A World Bank director at the meeting said Nigeria will move into a recession due to the impact of COVID-19 with severe human and economic cost but that the bank had planned a proposed package for immediate fiscal relief for Nigeria.

Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Alex Richardson and Alexandra Hudson

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