By Matthew Ogune, Abuja
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, has stated that the Federal Government is in the process of accessing a World Bank loan of $750 million on behalf of State governments, to stimulate local economy, as well as support vulnerable household’s consumption.
The Minister disclosed this at the inauguration ceremony of the Federal Steering and Technical Committees of the Nigeria Covid-19 Action Recovery and Economic stimulus (N-CARES) recently, in Abuja.
According to her, “the loan is part of windows of opportunities to mitigate the effect of Covid-19,” as she maintad that the diverse and severe impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic had continued to be felt across the world with significant consequences on informal businesses, households that survive on daily income and the peasant farmers who depended on their farm produce to survive.
“This key population make up over 60 percent of our entire population in Nigeria hence the need to cushion the effects of the pandemic on the vulnerable sectors through the provision of palliatives and stimulus package,” she added.
She noted that the Federal Government had created several windows of interventions as captured in the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) inaugurated by President, Muhammadu Buhari, on March 30, 2020.
Ahmed added that among other things, the ESP was to respond robustly and appropriately to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as to identify fiscal measures to enhance oil and non-oil government revenues and reduce non-essential spending.
The minister also pointed out that the Steering Committee was made up of carefully selected Ministers and Permanent Secretaries while the Technical Committee, made up of Directors of key MDAs, had to be in place to ensure that the implementation of the N-CARES was in line with Federal Government Priorities, as outlined in the Economic Sustainability Plan….
“The Government has carefully selected you as members of the Federal Steering and Technical Committees because of the important roles your MDAs play in the recovery of the Nigerian economy as well as the fulfillment of lifting 100 million people out of poverty; and I have no doubt you can deliver,” she maintained.
The major role of the Federal Steering committee would be to provide an overall policy direction for the implementation of N-CARES programme and advise the President appropriately; While the Federal Technical Committee would be responsible for the programme oversight, overall guidance, support, coordination, strategic direction, review and approval of the annual work programme as well as budget for the Federal CARES Support Unit (FCSU).
Ahmed further stated that inaugurating the committee was important because of the need for emergency intervention and the fact that Nigeria, as the biggest economy in Africa, could not afford to remain in recession; “the survival of over 200 million population is germane to all we do, as such, we must address the concerns of majority of our populace.”
She reminded the committee about the high consequences that could be, if the root cause of rising civil unrest in the country was ignored.
Earlier, the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, in his welcome address, said that the N-CARES programme was a multi-sectoral programme, designed to provide immediate emergency relief to the vulnerable and poor Nigerians, smallholder farmers and SMEs who were adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As you may be aware, the Novel Covid-19 pandemic has ravaged so many economies in the world including the Nigerian economy. Nigeria economy is currently faced with perhaps the most challenging economic downturn in its history; as most of the sectors have been adversely affected, hence, government intervention has become very crucial.”
Also speaking, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social development, Dame Pauline Tallen, appreciated the World Bank for their role in the support of the Federal cares steering and technical committees.
She assured that Nigerian Women would be committed to playing their lead and key roles as care givers in addressing COVID 19 issues that had affected their families.
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