Uche Usim, Abuja
To cushion the scathing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government is set to access a World Bank loan worth $750 million on behalf of the states, to stimulate local economy and support vulnerable households.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed disclosed this in Abuja at the inauguration ceremony of the Federal Steering Committees of the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (N- CARES).
According to a statement released by the ministry yesterday, the Federal Government has created several windows of interventions as captured in the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari on March 30, 2020.
The ESP will, among other things, respond robustly and appropriately to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, identify fiscal measures to enhance oil and non-oil government revenues and reduce non-essential spending.
On the need for proper implementation, Ahmed said: “To ensure that implementation of the N-CARES is in line with the federal government priorities as outlined in the ESP, the Federal Steering Committee, made up of ministers and permanent secretaries as well as a Technical Committee, made up of directors of key ministries, department and agencies (MDAs) has to be in place. The government has carefully selected you as members of the Federal Steering and Technical Committees because of the important role your MDAs play in the recovery of the Nigerian economy as well as the fulfillment of lifting 100 million people out of poverty.”
On the expediency of the inauguration of the committee, the Minister said, “the inauguration of your committee is expedient given the nature of this emergency intervention; Nigeria as the biggest economy in Africa cannot afford to remain in recession; the survival of over 200 million population is germane to all we do and we must address the concerns of the majority of our populace.”
With regards to the cause and consequences of civil unrest and COVID-19 in the country, she stated: “Let me remind you that the consequences will be too high if we ignore the root cause of rising civil unrest in our country. We must, therefore, fashion out ways of ensuring that post Covid-19 is not injurious to the Nigerian people and the economy.”
“As members of the Federal Steering Committee, while your major role will be to provide an overall policy direction for the implementation of this programme and advise Mr. President appropriately, the Federal Technical Committee will 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 added.