The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Thursday said the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease EVD in West Africa did not affect Nigeria’s economy.
The minister, who made this known to Bloomberg TV Africa on Thursday, revealed that following the outbreak of the disease, the federal government had a team monitoring the impact on the economy, which she said at the moment, does not have any huge impact on the economy.
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“There’s been some fall-off in hotel occupancy, in Lagos in particular, some meetings have been postponed, but you still have other business people who are arriving,” Okonjo-Iweala said.
The minister further disclosed that the country’s Excess Crude Account, where a portion of oil revenue is stored to cushion the economy against volatility, stands at $4.11 billion. She also hinted that in January, there was concern that a decline in the account balance to about $2.5 billion then, made the economy vulnerable and is expected to be restored before the end of the year
She also revealed plans to open the Development Bank of Nigeria by March next year, adding that the bank is would be capitalized with $2 billion which may rise to $10 billion with the expectation of sealing the gap in Nigerian business lending.
“It’s very difficult for business people, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, to find any money for five years, seven years,” Okonjo-Iweala said. “Mostly they can borrow for a year to three years. If you want to build a business sustainably and you want your economy to have sustained growth you’ve got to fix access to finance.”
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Okonjo-Iweala, however, noted that the development bank will be jointly financed by the federal government. She said the bank is slated to receive $500 million each from the World Bank and the African Development Bank, as well as a credit line from the German development bank, KfW Group.
Meanwhile, Ebola virus was brought to Nigeria on July 20, 2014, by the late Liberian-American, Patrick Sawyer. According to a recent report from the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nigeria has so far recorded 19 cases of Ebola virus, with eight casualties in its borders although the virus has reportedly claimed about 2,296 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
It would be recalled that on August 22, 2014, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and the Minister of Finance, commended the courage of Nigerian medical professionals over their response to the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease.