Joseph Inokotong, Abuja
The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, yesterday said the World Bank has recieved a proposal of $1.5 billion to states as part of economic stimulus to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ahmed who briefed State House correspondents after the virtual National Economic Council (NEC) meeting anchored from the Presidential Villa, Abuja, at the first ever virtual NEC meeting and the fourth for the year, presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajosaid this will cushion the COVID-19 effect on the states.
This was coming on the heels of the bank’s approval of $500 million programme to help countries in Africa and the Middle East fight the locust swarms now threatening food security and the livelihoods of millions of people across the continent.
The Emergency Locust Response Programme (ELRP), approved yesterday by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors, will focus on providing immediate assistance to help poor and vulnerable farmers, herders, and rural households overcome one of the worst locust upsurges in decades.
“The World Bank maintains that the impact of the COVID-19 on Nigeria will lead to severe amplified human and economic cost, which will move the country into a recession.
This is in addition to proposed package for immediate fiscal relief for the Federal Government involving policy-based budget support for the government, focusing on measures to maintain macro financial stability and create fiscal space for proposed stimulus.
She pointed out that the World Bank package has also got a proposal of $1.5billion for the states which will be dedicated and programmed for results which the states are already used to implementing.
According to her, the immediate fiscal relief for the states will include the acceleration of an existing programme to enable disbursement by end of September, adding that by the end of September, the $1.5 billion plan would have been disbursed to the states.
“We are looking at an average of between N150billion to N200billion, based on the plan, for the 36 states.
“These are states that have already made some particular commitments and achievements so that they will be able to get immediate disbursements of parts of these funds.’’
Ahmed said that the ministry made a presentation to the Council on the structures that the Federal Government was looking at and putting in place to tackle the challenges of COVID-19.
According to her, the country is in a very difficult and challenging time, facing a very significant economic downturn that has not been seen in the history of the country.
The minister said that the global economy was also facing the sharpest reversals since the great depression as it had both health and economic consequences.