COVID-19: GOVERNOR SANWO-OLU CALLS ON ORGANISED PRIVATE SECTOR TO ENSURE JOB SECURITY AND SUSTAIN SUPPLY OF ESSENTIAL PRODUCTS
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has called on CEOs of the Organised Private Sector to as much as possible ensure job security for staff while also maintaining price stability and sustaining essential supplies during and after the COVID-19 crisis period.
The Governor made this disclosure during a virtual stakeholders engagement and meeting with Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Businesses coordinated by Director General, of the Nigeria Employers' Consultative Association (NECA), Dr Timothy Olawale.
The Governor expressed his appreciation for the support so far given by the Business Community in Lagos State and restated his willingness to further collaborate with organized businesses, post COVID-19. Support from Governors of other states to ensure free movement of essential goods.
Among the issues and challenges brought to the Governor's attention were:
- The worsening security situation and risk of escalated civil disturbance;
- Elevated risk to business, properties and staff;
- Dwindling supply to retail malls and outlets due to the inability of suppliers to transport supplies due to worsening security situation;
- Stimulus for businesses;
- Need for banks to scale up/increase scope of operations, to allow smooth operation especially the CBN to relax the embargo on cheque clearance;
- Challenges in accessing packaging materials especially in pharmaceutical companies as all Companies producing the packaging materials are not allowed to operate;
- Accelerated clearance and priority for clearing of food raw materials, drugs and pharmaceuticals;
- Incessant harassment and extortion of Company trucks and delivery vans by Police on checkpoints even when necessary means of identification are provided;
- Support for wholesalers to take their products from warehouses in closed markets to retail outlets;
- Governor's of other states to ensure free movement of essential goods and provision of security for Organizations.
The Governor noted that the crisis in Agege was more of a territorial war between rival clans and cults and assured that Government will remain proactive as there is additional deployment of Police and Support from other paramilitary agencies and the military. He however charged businesses to be more security conscious by taking steps to protect their staff and properties.
On Business Continuity issues, the Governor disclosed that Government will review the lockdown situation after 7 days and may consider implementing strategic relaxation to give businesses more relaxations. He also promised to engage the CBN Governor to address the issues of charges on cash deposits and cheque clearing especially during the lockdown period. He further promised that more assistance will be given to Organizations involved in packaging to enable them support other essential sectors. This will also involve engaging with the Nigeria Ports Authority with a view to fast tacking clearance of essential raw materials.
On palliatives, the Governor assured that Lagos State has a structure in place in all LGAs and LCDAs for distribution of bulk food supply, while also engaging over 200 food vendors to provide at least one meal a day to people in densely populated neighborhoods. He also confirmed that data collection is ongoing using TELCOS and other means to facilitate cash- transfers to youths and residents of Lagos State.
Among other palliatives in place include free treatment of pregnant women at all State hospitals; day to day food delivery to the most vulnerable and elderly; interest waiver for 3 months for all SMEs and MSMEs under the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund.
The Governor assured that all vehicles arrested /impounded during the period of the lockdown will be released at the end of the lockdown without payment of any penalty or fines.
In his closing remarks, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu sought assurances from the Business Community that Supply and distribution of essential goods and products will continue. He then urged businesses to ensure stability of prices during this critical period and post COVID-19 period as purchasing power of the masses would likely be weak and adversely impacted. He Also welcomed more collaboration and suggestions on how to drive growth and development in Lagos State, while assuring that Government has set up Post COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Agenda with a view to fast-tracking economic recovery.
He promised to invite organised businesses to a breakfast or Lunch session within one month after the COVID-19 pandemic to discuss and review how to strengthen the collaboration.