Mr David Malpass, President of the World Bank Group, has commended the Federal Government for removing subsidies on petroleum products.
He said this in Washington D. C. on Wednesday, October 14, at the opening press conference for the World Bank at the ongoing 2020 International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank virtual annual meetings.
Malpass was responding to a question on whether the World Bank saw an opportunity or problem regarding the enormous youth population in Nigeria accompanied by rising unemployment and the burden of COVID-19.
“I compliment Nigeria for tackling the problem of subsidies in the hydrocarbon area.
“By reducing those subsidies and allowing gasoline prices to rise – it is very hard for governments to do that – there are substantial benefits.
“It means that there are fiscal savings, it also means that there are environmental benefits that are large and it allows markets to work better and to allocate resources better.
“So, I think progress is being made in that area and it is valuable,” he added.
On tackling the economic crisis the pandemic posed for Nigeria; he said that the vital steps were to strengthen the health and the education system.
According to him, the governance system and transparency were vital in order to reduce corruption within the system.
He said that there were opportunities as well.
“I think each country has to confront or has to think about where it wants to be in a post-COVID world that is going to be very different from the pre-COVID world.
“That means a different way of people interacting, hopefully, better; a greener way of operating; and an emphasis on health care.
“We have extended the emergency health response to include vaccines and distribution of vaccines for COVID; but it also has the benefit of helping the vaccination programmes in other areas; and the healthcare outreach in other areas that will be so valuable.”
He, however, said that the first priority was to save lives, people’s health, and safety.
The World Bank official said that would involve procedures like social distancing; and masks and proper health care if people contract the virus; as well as the strengthening of hospital systems.
Malpass said that looking at the next stage, it would be a prolonged downturn for many countries; as there would not be as fast a rebound in tourism, for example, as many would like to have.
He said that there would need to be flexibility in economies so that people could move to new jobs and positions; and the country could be prepared for a post-COVID global economy.