On the 27thof February, Nigeria reported its first case of COVID-19 since the beginning of the outbreak in China in December 2019. Nigerians realized that the pandemic which was originally seen as affecting other countries had hit home. This has without a doubt shown us how integrated the world has become on account of globalization, considering how COVID-19 spread from Wuhan, China to nearly all countries of the world in a couple of months and infected over 7 million people in the process.
Prior to the COVID–19 pandemic, our reality of a normal way of life as we know it – going to school; going to work; being with family and friends; going to parties; going to church or mosque; places us at risk of infection. COVID-19 has disrupted our social and economic order on a scale that we have not seen in living memory. Several containment measures have been put in place, the most notable being the forced shutdown of economies which has quickly turned a health crisis into a financial crisis. The IMF, which had projected a positive per capita income growth in over 160 of its member countries at +3% forecast in January, 2020, revised its initial projections downwards in April of same year stating that over 170 countries will experience negative per capita income growth with a forecast of -3% by year end.
Despite the modest performance of GDP as at Q1:2020, in Nigeria, the general expectation is for an economic contraction in Q2:2020. Hence, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has cut the benchmark rate by 100bps to 12.50%, extended a moratorium and interest rate reduction on all its intervention facilities as it seeks to stimulate aggregate demand and avert a recession in Q3:2020. It is therefore imperative that Meristem continues to partner with its clients to ensure wealth preservation and value creation remains uninterrupted in these trying times.
Given these unprecedented happenings, Meristem took a proactive step to minimize the impact of the pandemic on our clients, our people and our business operations by prioritizing our transition to remote working for our staff to keep everyone safe and focused, extended our call centre working hours to ensure our clients do not miss out on wealth creation opportunities whilst ensuring no salary cut or layoffs during and after the lockdown period.
Meristem has been unfaltering in its commitment to ensure zero disruptions in operations for our clients and we are leveraging our digital assets to secure the continuous flow of information and creative solutions to grow our clients’ wealth.
Finally, as responsible corporate citizens of this great nation, we have made strenuous efforts to put in place precautionary measures for our stakeholders. While we hope for a quick end to this pandemic, we encourage everyone not to relent in adhering to precautionary measures and guidelines issued by the government health agencies – Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, such as observing social distancing, practicing personal hygiene and wearing of face masks.
Stay healthy and Stay safe.
Group Managing Director