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Coronavirus: Govt Should Support Business, Says Pepple

Chairman of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria in Rivers and Bayesla States, Senator Adawari Pepple, has appealed to Rivers State government to give financial support to businesses as they try to survive in the lockdown from coronavirus.

Senator Pepple speaking in an interview said that the coronavirus and subsequent lockdown was having negative effect on economy of Rivers State.

The business leader said: “Definitely it is having a negative impact on the economy. When you restrict movement of people that means business is being slowed down. Air travels are suspended. Movement (of people is) suspended. People whose business it is to transport people around are being affected. So it is impacting negatively on the economy. Government just has to support business because if you don't do that there will be total depression”.

The business leader said government should support the private sector considering coronavirus was having impact on the economy.

He also said coronavirus pandemic is having global effect on economy.

Senator Pepple said: “The coronavirus pandemic is having effect globally. If it were not so the New York Stock Exchange would not have recorded its lowest position ever. Even in the dip of depression, it has not been this bad. So, it is impacting negatively on the economy of every state. The price of oil has collapsed because there's no demand.”

He said that if business community has collapsed, the whole economy has collapsed.

If the coronavirus is having impact on state economy, it's also having impact on national and global economies, he explained.

The business leader said: “It's having impact on the state economy. You can't divorce the economy of the state from the economy of Nigeria. You can't divorce the economy of Nigeria from the global economy and so it's actually impacting negatively on the economy of the state. As it stands now, can the average market woman say that things are looking better or not?”

Despite the negative impact, the business leader commended the state government for the steps already taken to save lives.

He said: “It's actually impacting negatively on the economy of the state but in the spirit of the negativity, what does government want to achieve? That is what is uppermost and that is to save lives and so despite the negative impact it's a welcome development”.

The state government announced on Wednesday, March 25 that there would be total lockdown beginning on Thursday March 26 with no movement into or out of the state.

In a statewide broadcast, governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, said: “With effect from 6pm on Thursday, March 26, 2020, the Port-Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa will not be open to traffic. While we may not have the right to stop flights from entering Port-Harcourt, we cannot allow anybody coming from the airport to enter our state. All land and sea borders will be closed. Vehicular movements in and out of the state have been banned. These measures are to remain in place until further notice.”

The governor also said: “May I once again call for the support and understanding of everyone living and doing business in Rivers State to help the relevant Government Agencies implement these measures to check the spread of coronavirus to the state”.

The state however recorded its first case of coronavirus of a 19-year-old girl who returned to Port-Harcourt after travelling to Italy, Greece and France.