Nigeria has launched the Covid-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus, NG-CARES, a multi-sectoral programme designed to support vulnerable and poor Nigerians.
The programme is also aimed at providing emergency relief to smallholder farmers and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs, especially those that were adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The World Bank is providing a $750million facility for the NG-CARES.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who launched the programme on Thursday before the commencement of the meeting of the National Economic Council at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja, said that the World Bank’s $750million loan would be over a period of two years: 2021-2023.
He said that the intervention allocation to each state is $20million; and $15million to the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. There is also $15million dollars for the Federal Cares Support Unit.
“The programme will build on the varied and extensive federal government interventions developed as part of the president’s plan for taking 100 million Nigerians out of poverty and in response to the severe socio-economic fallouts of the pandemic, especially those programmes and plans contained in the Economic Sustainability Plan.
“The essential addition to the federal government’s programme is that the NG-CARES programme will leverage on existing programmes in the states, especially job creation programmes, wealth creation, poverty reduction programmes at the community level such as state cash transfer units state Fadama or agriculture development agencies, state job creation units, MSME units.”
Prof. Osinbajo said all of these would be supported by the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, GEEP.
The vice president said that the NG-CARES implementation would be driven by the states, adding that there must be performance shown on its implementation.
“The federal government also regards this programme as an important complement to its own scaled up to a number of beneficiaries of social transfer, subsidy and grants to support individuals, households and MSMEs in the multi-year development plan for 2021-2024, which was developed in the context of the response to the Covid-19 crisis and the Economic Sustainability Plan.
“That plan serves as a bridge. In order to ensure successful programme implementation, the federal government will provide quality assurance, monitoring, capacity building and technical assistance to states and the FCT on project activities and results.
“Consequently, the federal government has inaugurated the Federal CARES Steering Committee, the Federal CARES Technical Committee and the Federal CARES Support Unit to provide overall policy direction, technical support to all the states and the FCT and to advise the president appropriately.”
Expressing confidence in the prompt and effective implementation of the NG-CARES both at the federal and state levels, the vice president encouraged all stakeholders to fully deploy their wealth of experience and expertise to ensure the successful take-off and implementation of the programme.
Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, who spoke on behalf of governors, pointed out that the socio-economic challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic have necessitated a response like the NG-CARES.
“This is a fallout of the pandemic that we have had to grapple with over the past 18 months or more and as a way of dealing with the deleterious impact of the pandemic on vulnerable segments of our population, we came up jointly with the World Bank team and the Federal Government’s team.
“This response mechanism is a compliment to the Economic Sustainability Programme that the Federal Government also embarked upon working with the states.”
Fayemi expressed gratitude to the Federal Ministry of Finance Budget and National Planning and the World Bank for the effort that has gone into the preparation of the NG-CARES.
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba, explained that the vision, concept and design of the NG-CARES were derived from the social protection agenda of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The framework of the NG-Cares programme is within the context of the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan and the National Development Pan 2021-2025 which were developed in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
Agba added that the objectives of the NG-Cares were to expand access to livelihood support, food security services and grants for the poor and vulnerable households and firms.
World Bank Country Director in Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, in his remarks, said that the programme is resource-based.
“There are certain results in terms of support that the states provide to households, communities, to farmers, to small businesses and it is after those results are verified that disbursements will actually occur.”
Chaudhuri explained that the World Bank has mobilized civil society organizations to get feedback on a continuous basis on the implementation of the programme.
He also said that state governments have been asked to allow civil society organisations to monitor their implementation of the programme in their states.
The World Bank Director said that 34 out of Nigeria’s 36 states were ready to receive advances of the loan. (VON)