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UNICEF Wants FG To Digitalise Payments To Needy Households To Block Leakages

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…As FG Commences Review Of National Social Protection Policy
By Matthew Ogune, Abuja
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), yesterday, urged the Federal Government to digitalise payments to needy households and individuals, to ensure a holistic coverage and block leakages.

UNICEF Deputy Representative Rushnan Murtaza gave this advise in Abuja at a High Level Breakfast Dialogue on Social Protection Policy organized by the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning in collaboration with UN-Agencies.

Murtaza said: “The world is increasingly speaking a digital language, and COVID-19 has shown us the importance of digital platform.”

“Digitalization provides options for low-income families to be financially included and the National Cash Transfer programme has the potential to make it a reality and drive the financial inclusion agenda of the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

“It allows to reduce the logistical burden on families, reduce operation costs, financial errors, leakages, fraud and corruption and increases transparency, something we all want to see.

“We all recognize that there are limitations due to infrastructures and access, but different digital payment options can be explored – like bank accounts, wallets, and agent pay points to mention some.”

On the agenda of children, he advised that the social protection should ensure that every child lives in a household with sufficient financial resources to develop and fulfil their potential and
has access to quality basic services and the knowledge needed for development, regardless of income or personal characteristics.

Adding: “Social protection is the right of every child, and it is the foundation of a country’s social contract to provide every child with coverage and give every child an equal chance.

“We look forward to today’s deliberation, of this high-level meeting, for further reinforcing the strategic direction of the social protection agenda including the acceleration of the development of a social protection floor for the country.”

Martaza reiterated UNICEF’s firm commitment to provide continued support in the areas of social protection towards achieving the SDGs in 2030 and making social protection a reality for millions of Nigerians.

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Speaking, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba who reminded the forum that the existing policy is expected to lapse in December, 2020, disclosed that the Ministry in collaboration with all relevant stakeholder MDAs had commenced the process of the review of the current National Social Protection Policy by setting up an inter-ministerial stakeholder’s technical working committee (TWG) which also include development partners to produce a revised National Social Protection Policy that will run from 2021-2025 before the end of year 2020.

Agba further disclosed that the Ministry is in the process of mainstreaming Social Protection into the ongoing Medium Term National Development Plans (2021-2025) and a long term perspective plan which is Nigeria Vision 2050.

He noted that, reduction of poverty and articulation of the priorities of Government towards sustainable development requires the collaborative efforts of all MDAs.

The Minister stated: “While the Ministry is in the process of reviewing the Social Protection Policy, it is also pertinent to say that institutionalization and legislation of social protection by the National Assembly will commence as the review of the policy is progressing.

“The Ministry is ready to work collaboratively with the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and other relevant sectors including UN Agencies and other development partners to develop a robust draft Bill on Social Protection for passage by the National Assembly (NASS).

“All these and other critical steps towards the promotion of Social Protection will enable the Government to maximize the utilization of resources in the UN-Joint support for Social Protection to accelerate SDGs achievement in Nigeria.”

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