By Salisu Sani-Idris
The Federal Government on Friday in Abuja inaugurated Steering Committee and Federal Technical Committee of the Nigeria Covid-19 Action Recovery for Economic Stimulus (N-CARES) .
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed while inaugurating the committees urged members to fashion out ways to ensure that post Covid-19 was not injurious to the Nigerians and the nation’s economy.
The minister said that the consequences of COVID-19 would be high if Nigeria ignored the root cause of rising civil unrest in the country.
“We must, therefore, fashion out ways of ensuring that post Covid-19 is not injurious to the Nigerian people and the economy.”
Ahmed said that diverse and severe impacts of the pandemic was being felt across the world with significant consequences on informal businesses, and households that survive on daily income and the farmers who depend on their farm produce to survive.
“As part of windows of opportunity to mitigate the effect of Covid-19, the Federal Government is in the process of accessing a World Bank loan of 750 million dollars on behalf of the states to stimulate the local economy and support vulnerable household’s consumption.
“Federal Government has created several windows of interventions as captured in the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) inaugurated by President, Muhammadu Buhari on March 30.
“This 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,” she said.
Ahmed said that to ensure the implementation of the N-CARES was in line with the FG priorities as outlined in the ESP the Federal Steering Committee was made up of ministers, permanent secretaries, while technical committee comprised directors of key MDAs.
She said that members of the committees were carefully selected because of the important role their MDAs played in the recovery of the Nigerian economy as well as the fulfillment of lifting 100 million people out of poverty.
Accoording to Ahmed the major role of the steering committee was to provide overall policy direction for the implementation of the programme and advise the president appropriately.
“Also, 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).”
The Minister of State, Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mr Clement Agba, said that the N-CARES programme was a multi-sectoral programme designed to provide immediate emergency relief to the vulnerable and poor Nigerians.
These according Agba include smallholder farmers and SMEs that were adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic using a World Bank loan of N750 million over a period of two years (2021 – 2022).
Agba said that the economy was currently faced with challenges in economic downturn in its history.
He said that government intervention had became crucial as most of the sectors had been adversely affected.
The minister commended the Federal Government, stakeholders and the committee members for been part of the occasion.
On his remarks, an Executive Director with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr Lateef Shittu, said that N-CARES Programme was to bring succour to the citizenry at the difficult time considering the impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic on the national economy.
Shittu said that as key stakeholders in the Nigeria agenda, the NGF and all state governors applauded the program.
“This is evident in the support already given by the NGF secretariat which is a policy hub and resource centre that serves as the technical and administrative arm of the NGF. “
Shittu said that in recognition of the critical role peer learning played in the success of programs, the forum was ready to support peer learning and experience sharing in a bid to distil best practises across the 36 states of the federation.
He also commended the World Bank for the N-CARES programme expressing believe that it would reflate the economy and deepen governance.
Task Team Leader for CSDP at the World Bank, Prof. Foluso Okunmadewa, said the initiative would reduce negative impact of covid-19 on poor and vulnerable, adding that poverty and vulnerability levels were already high in Nigeria before the pandemic.
Dr Abdulkarim Obaje, National Coordinator, Community and Social Development Project (CSDP), an initiative of the Federal Government, said N-CARES programme was aimed at mitigating the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on citizens, infrastructure and the economy.
Obaje also said that the programme was designed to cover all the 36 States and FCT, assuring that CSDP was technically prepared to provide all that was needed to drive the programme.
He said that the Federal Government has shown high commitment towards lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty over the next 10 years.