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Effects of the recession on families and how to cope

by Tosin Ajayi

The National Bureau of Economic Research defined a recession as a significant decline in economic activities spread across sectors, lasting more than a month, normally visible in real gross domestic product (GDP), real income, employment, industrial production and wholesale/retail sales.

According to the just-released data by the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined by -3.62% (year-on-year) in Q3 2020, thereby marking a full-blown recession and second consecutive contraction from -6.10% recorded in the previous quarter (Q2 2020).

The year 2020 has been a trying time, not only for Nigerians but for the world generally; this is as a result of the novel coronavirus, which has impacted the economy negatively.

The Nigerian economy over the years has been striving to be stable because of the mismanagement of funds, high debt rate and unemployment, etc. However, the recent recession compounded Nigeria’s socio-economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic and Post #Endsars Violence.

Furthermore, to curb the spread of the pandemic, a lockdown was imposed nationwide, during the period of March to August 2020 and a lot of families found it challenging to survive the impact of disruptions to daily commercial activities.

Some had to dip into their savings to remain stable during that period. Jobs were lost as some companies could not afford to pay salaries, while some companies had chosen salary reduction as a way of sustaining their businesses.

Prices of goods and services also increased astronomically during this period. On the other hand, economic activities, religious and social gatherings were limited to contain the pandemic across the nation and the negative effects on the economy.

The following are the major causes of recession in any given economy as drawn from the past Nigeria economic recessions:

  • A general rise in price of goods and service which leads to low purchasing power.
  • Increase of debt, especially foreign debts.
  • High-interest rates discouraging investors
  • Importation bans in Nigeria which increased poverty rate in Nigeria.
  • Mass unemployment and general loss of confidence in the government due to the challenging economic indices.

In a recession, families with little or no barriers to resist the effect of recession are most likely to be hit severely. Though there are some families who may not be able to avoid the effects of the recession, they can make changes that can improve their situations and help them prepare for the future, while they wait for an economic upswing,

Nigeria’s Q3,2020 Recession, below are the implications on families and households

  • Rising food inflation of over 17% will impact the cost of food prices as the festive season beckons.
  • Purchasing power parity of Nigerian households is challenged due to the economic situation.
  • Marital issues crop up, as financial pressures can damage mental health which can lead to depression and frustration in marriages.
  • The low-interest yield environment in the Nigerian capital market also affects appetite for savings in the fixed income market.

The unfortunate condition could be managed by families with these measures:

  • Families are advised to cut down costs ruthlessly, especially in this festive period. Have a reasonable festive celebration.
  • They should have a budget/financial plan put in place for the year 2021 as no one knows how things will unfold.
  • There is a need to have another stream of income or work overtime to sustain your family during this period and this can be achieved if you are skillful.
  • It is also advisable to purchase all you need for the festive season now, as prices of goods and services might triple because of the festive period.
  • It is crucial for some families to switch to cheaper schools around with the same qualities and standards to reduce expenses.
  • FMCGs are already tailoring the sachet-economy to the lower-class families whose earnings have dropped this year.
  • Households experiencing financial difficulties during this period are advised to position themselves to see how they can benefit from the various interventions from the Government for citizens.
  • Couples should have conversations around their finances and prioritize expenses while adapting to the new economic realities and coping with necessary adjustments

What Government can do to enhance the economy

  • Tax rates should be reduced on individuals, corporation, and small businesses. This high tax rate is affecting many small-scale businesses. Foreign investors will also be encouraged by the reduction in tax rate. This will increase inflow of dollars to Nigeria’s economy, and ultimately increase investment and standard of living. It will solve the problem of high exchange rate.
  • It is important for the government to curtail any unnecessary expenditure and focus more on expanding her export earnings and production through wise investment. Putting funds into the economy is a good idea, but there is need for diversification, allowing the free flow of naira and stabilizing the oil sector, modernizing agricultural sector. By this, Nigeria can spend her way out of recession wisely.
  • Enhanced Access to Credit: Here, the Nigerian government, especially the federal and the state government, should grant soft loans to small and medium scale enterprises, to enable them boost gross domestic product (GDP) of the country. In the same vein, agricultural credit should be given to farmers to enhance adequate food production and reduce the bike of farm produce in the country (Nigeria).
  • Nigerian Government should increase its expenditure on skills. It is only skills that lead to productivity and competitiveness as a nation. So, government should invest in skills acquisition in ICT, Telecommunications, Agro-allied, Sports, Vocational training among others. The training should be 80% free practical. There is need for multiple competence, particularly among youths as a measure to curb increase in global joblessness. The greatest challenge today in Nigeria is unemployment. The government should partner with private organizations, to organize entrepreneurship and skills acquisition programs for the youths. There should be a high level of transparency in the program to ensure the best candidates are picked. This way, Nigeria will soon see herself on top of the fastest-growing economy in Africa.
  • Increased Agricultural Production: There is need to reposition agriculture as a major driver of the economy, like in the 1960s when it was the major revenue earner in the country. Today, Nigeria spends billions of US dollars a year on the importation of agricultural products. The youths, as earlier stated, should be encouraged to go into Agri-business covering the entire value chain.

Conclusion

For families, this will be a challenging time, and it will require a lot of sacrifice, adjustments and prudence in the management of resources to navigate the economic storm.

Financial institutions should be encouraged to support the real sector playing the intermediation role.

In the Fiscal Policy space from the Finance Bill 2020 the government has taken some key steps in taxation and duties to reduce the burden on families and companies, but the process must be followed through effectively for implementation.

The Government should demonstrate its seriousness in policy by cutting down costs from the Federal to State, and block all the leakages ensuring that funds are invested in infrastructure, healthcare, education and security.

Nigeria is a nation with resilient people. Families should remember that this is just challenging period to navigate what has been an unprecedented year in the nation’s socio-economic space.

Source: https://nairametrics.com/2020/11/29/effects-of-the-recession-on-families-and-how-to-cope/

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