The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has urged the Federal Government to take more decisive action on stimulus to businesses for sustainability and protection of jobs. Its Director-General, Mr Timothy Olawale, said in a statement on Friday in Lagos that the announced stimulus had, to a large extent, not addressed the critical needs of businesses. According to him, much more can still be done currently, not belatedly, to save jobs in Nigeria. Olawale said: “More direct interventions should target direct wage or income support; wage subsidies; tax credits or tax deferrals; short-term work schemes; moratoriums on loan payments. “Also, the establishment of a ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’, where government pays up to 60 per cent of private sector salaries until June as long as workers are not laid off. “This is done in in other climes such as UK, France and Denmark; it will reduce the negative impact on businesses and slow the rate of job loss.” The director-general also called on the government to balance the protection of lives with economic interests. He said while protection of life should take precedence, the need to protect the economic foundation of the nation could not be discounted as the economy would ultimately sustain life. “While government takes decisive steps to protect lives, efforts should also be made to keep productive activities going.
“Without delicately balancing the scale, the consequential negative effects of the pandemic will not only include unimaginable loss of lives, massive job losses and heightened insecurity, it may also lead to unnecessary social revolt,” he said.
Olawale said that a relaxed lockdown with legislated state and national guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 would go a long way in maintaining the gains of the past few weeks of lockdown.
He said also that it would be imperative for governments at all levels to be more strategic and transparent in the administration of social welfare and palliatives distribution among the most vulnerable.
“The guidelines should include: compulsory use of sanitisers, free protective gears by government face masks and hand gloves, where necessary.
“Also, maintenance of social distancing, increased education and awareness, total banning of religious, political and social gatherings; limited number of passengers in public and private transportation and strict enforcement of same, among others.
“While the risks of total relaxing too soon are very real, gradual relaxation can be considered under these stringent pre-conditions as done in Ghana, Germany and some other countries, albeit, with a high sense of alertness,”