By Ahsan Ahsan
The Federal Government on Friday, November 13, in Abuja has inaugurated Federal Steering Committee and Federal Technical Committee of the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery for Economic Stimulus (N-CARES), according to NAN report.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, while inaugurating the committees, urged members to ensure that post COVID-19 was not injurious to Nigerians 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, households and farmers who depended 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 the implementation of the N-CARES was in line with the Federal Government priorities as outlined in the ESP. The Federal Steering Committee is made up of ministers, permanent secretaries, while the technical committee comprised directors of key MDAs. She said that members of the committees were selected in line with the role their MDAs played in the recovery of the Nigerian economy as well as the fulfillment of lifting 100 million people out of poverty. According 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 emergency relief to the vulnerable and poor Nigerians. These according to 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 become crucial as most of the sectors had been adversely affected.
In his remarks, an Executive Director with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr Lateef Shittu, said that N-CARES Programme was to bring succor to the citizenry at this difficult period. Shittu said that as key stakeholders in the Nigeria agenda, the NGF and all state governors applauded the programme.
“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 the forum would support peer learning and experience sharing in a bid to distil best practices across the 36 states of the federation in the implementation of the programme. He also commended the World Bank for the N-CARES programme, expressing believe that it would reflate the economy and deepen governance.
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 assured that the 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.