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COVID-19 second spike: Another lockdown will further cripple SMEs– BENCCIMA, MAN

As Coronavirus (COVID-19) infections continue to soar in Nigeria and other parts of the world, the Organized Private Sectors in Edo State have appealed to Federal Government to shelve plans of reimposing another lockdown in the wake of the second wave.

Speaking with BusinessDay in a separate interview on Tuesday in Benin City, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), and the Benin Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (BENCCIMA), said if rules are tightened by the federal and state governments, then many Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) will be pushed out of operation and out of business.

John Yesufu Imalingmhe, Director General BENCIMMA, who noted that many SMEs in the state and indeed the country have not recovered from the first lockdown, contended that another lockdown would have more negative impact on investors.

Yesufu also posited that a fresh lockdown would make it difficult for many individuals and companies to fulfill their tax obligations thereby affecting Internally Generated Revenue to the government.

According to him, the prospect for Nigeria’s economic growth already looks dim in the first quarter.

“Government should be sensitive to the plight of Nigerians, especially the challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic itself, #EndSARS protest and the alarming insecurity we are facing. If Government insists on lockdown, living stipend should be paid to individual accounts of Nigerians instead of relief food items that would be stocked in warehouses.

“We cannot rule inflation (hike in prices) like what was experienced during the first lockdown. All these would affect the economy in the first quarter”, Yesufu said.

On his part, Okwara Arua Udensi, Chairman Edo/Delta State branch, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), stated that there is no need to reimpose another lockdown owing to the dwindling economy and difficulties Nigerians face in making ends meet.

Udensi however, advised the federal government to enforce compliance to the precautionary measures and step up public enlightenment campaigns.

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