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Minister: 30 sectors showed negative growth in H1

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The Minister of Finance, Budget and Natural Planning Minister, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed on Wednesday said 30 sectors of the economy showed negative growth in the first half of the year.

Speaking to State House Correspondents, she said from the report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the economy fared better than expected.

She said measures are being put in place to stabilise the economy and ensure that it continues to run despite the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said: “We presented a memo to council in respect of the second quarter GDP (gross domestic product) report, earlier released by the National Bureau of Statistics on the 24th of August.

“Why the memo is so dated is because there was a retreat last week and we couldn’t get scheduled as well. Still for us, the information is important and topical.

“The GDP report shows that the economy went into negative growth of -6.10per cent in the second quarter but that the aggregate performance for half year 2020 is -2.1per cent. This performance of -6.10per cent is a good performance in the sense that it is better than what we have projected second quarter performance to be at -7.2per cent.

“This performance also is a good performance because it outperformed the projections that had been done by the Brentwood institutions. But it also outperformed very developed economies of the world and also economies that are comparable to us.

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“We also reported to council that even though out of the 46 sectors of the economy, 30 of these sectors showed negative growth, but there were still some sectors that were growing on the positive territory.

“These sectors include agriculture as well as financial services and the ICT services. This is actually showing that even during the COVID era, there were still some sectors that stood firm and indeed were growing.

“The inflation was also reported to be moving up gradually, capital importation did not dry up despite the lockdowns and the difficulties all countries experienced. But this is reflected by the significant decline in capital importation into the country.

“Exchange rate has moved up from $326 at the beginning of the quarter to $367. Again this is reflecting some of the policies that government had to take to ensure that the economy remain in a stable condition.”

She said in addition to the roll out of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), which had seen the government starting to implement major public works across the country, to ensure that people are employed or kept in jobs, this ESP improve support for small businesses including payroll support so that people are not finding themselves unemployed or small businesses are not closing down.

“Other interventions included intervention funds for small, medium enterprises to be able to borrow, intervention funds for health sector, intervention funds for infrastructure.

“All of these are designed to ensure continuous economic activities help to stabilise the economy. We are lucky that these things were rolled out early reducing the impact of the negative growth,” Mrs Ahmed said.

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