Governments today do not have easy jobs. They are now responsible for more than they have ever been. Beyond the usual expectation of providing access to critical services such as healthcare, education and security, we expect our elected officials to develop efficient bureaucracies and build infrastructure. It’s a tall order, and keeping pace is not easy, especially in light of external and unforeseen shocks like a pandemic.
More than likely, the governments that would struggle lead developing countries like Nigeria. For them, funding the activities above is a challenge given low government resources. Looking at the Nigerian budget, you find that the government spends an average of $120-$150 per citizen every year. This includes paying salaries to civil servants, building schools to teach skills or roads that can serve as an avenue to distribute goods. By contrast, the American government spends $12,000-$15,000 to power its economy every year. There just isn’t enough.
Simply put, real economic development will not come from the government trying to do it all alone.