The federal government is in the process of accessing a World Bank loan of $750 million on behalf of the states.
The new loan is meant to stimulate the local economy and support the vulnerable households’ consumption.
This, it said, is part of the windows of opportunity to mitigate the effect of COVID-19.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this on Friday at the inauguration ceremony of the Federal Steering Committees of the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (N- CARES) in Abuja.
According to a statement by the ministry’s spokesperson, the minister, in her address said the government had created several windows of interventions as captured in the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) inaugurated by President Muhammad Buhari on March 30, 2020.
She said the ESP is to, 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.
Speaking on the need for proper implementation, Mrs 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.” she said
Mrs Ahmed, while speaking on the reason for the inauguration of the committee, said the inauguration of the committee is expedient given the nature of the 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.
“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.”
“Ladies and Gentlemen, 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),” she said.
Mrs Ahmed also read out the terms of reference (ToR), saying, “for your guidance in your assignments, your committee shall: Provide overall strategic and policy guidance for the implementation of the programme; reviewing operation performance annually and provide feedback to government at both federal and state levels; and garnering support for the operation as further specified in the operations manual.”
The new loan is coming among several concerns raised by critics that the debt profile of the country is too high and could take a heavy toll on its finances during repayment.
However, the Debt Management Office, the federal agency saddled with the responsibility of managing the country’s debt – local and foreign – has consistently said that the debt to the country’s GDP is sustainable.