Nigeria: Finance Minister says recovery from COVID-19 has been sustainably good and encouraging

*FG, World Bank to provide $750m financing for states under SFTAS programme

*Buhari approves N656.1 b bridging facility to cushioning effect of FGN bailout facilities repayment by states

MINA Blog- Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed has delivered good news, saying the country’s recovery rate from the COVID-19 pandemic “has been sustainably good and encouraging, adding that, things are now looking up for us and our economy is bouncing back to normal.”

In her opening remark the 2021conference of the National Council on Finance and Economic Development (NACOFED) with the theme “Public Sector Finance Management in the New Normal (Post COVID -19)”holding from 15th -16th November, 2021 at Marriot Hotel, Lagos, she stated that the last couple of years presented series of challenges to the entire nation and the globe at large.

She disclosed that this year’s conference was carefully chosen to draw attention of managers and practitioners in public sector finance management to the challenges and opportunities posed by the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s economy and to proffer ways forward, adding that, it also provides a veritable platform for stakeholders in the public and private sector financial management to brainstorm on issues relating to the impact, implications, challenges and opportunities created by the pandemic.

She also reiterated that the country had exited recession and in order to consolidate on this achievement, “government is taking further proactive measures to develop policies aimed at improving the various sectors of our economy, adding that, the effort government created 6 years ago, have been instrumental in closing out the revenue gap created by the pandemic.”

The Minister expressed delight over the commitments shown by the 36 State governments in implementing the different reforms of Federal Government, disclosing that the Federal Government recently concluded arrangements with the World Bank to further make available another sum of $750 million as Additional financing for States under the States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme.

Mrs. Ahmed stated that the Federal Government recently cut-down the interest rate on intervention facilities from 9% to 5% per annum, adding that, President Buhari had approved a bridging facility in the sum of N656.1 billion to be granted to States over a period of six months towards cushioning the effect of the resumption in the repayment of the three FGN Bailout facilities, disclosing that, already the modalities of the facility had been worked out and the disbursement is expected to commence soon.

The Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Olushola Sawole in his keynote address thanked the Federal Government for its implementation of various initiatives to boost the economy, adding that all hands must be on deck to rebuild from the destructions occasioned by this Covid – 19 pandemic.

He added that “we need to think outside the box, indulge on job and wealth creation by walking the rope, compelling both those in the private and public sector to focus more on exploring ways to do more with less or little. Optimize spending by cutting down wastages and excesses, be creative, create avenues for revenue creation, expand innovations, avoid unnecessary spending and create a transparent ways and tendencies that will yield maximum value for every spending”.

The Governor while declaring the conference open added that “we need to roll up our sleeves and do the needful”.

He however welcomed everyone to Lagos state and wished them good deliberations.

Earlier the Permanent Secretary Finance, Mr. Aliyu Ahmed during his welcome address, stated that various recommendations of NACOFED conferences in the past served as inputs for preparation of annual budgets as well as for policy formulation towards economic growth and development at both the federal and sub-national levels, adding that, this forum will discuss topical issues of national interest and proffer suggestions towards charting the best way forward for the country.

Mr. Ahmed noted that he was optimistic that with the resource persons lined up for the paper presentation and discussion, justice will be done to the theme of the conference and participants will use the opportunity to learn new strategies, approaches and ideas that will help them to better manage the resources for delivery of good governance to our citizens at all level.

In his vote of thanks during the opening ceremony, the Permanent Secretary, Special Duties from Federal Ministry Finance, Budget and National Planning, Alh. Aliyu Shehu Shinkafi, thanked the Lagos State governor, for hosting the conference and the hospitality extended to the participants.

The Conference has in attendance, Senate Committee Chairman on Finance, Sen. Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, Hon. Kabiru Idris, Chairman House Committee on Development Partners and also a member of the House Appropriation Committee, former Governor of Gombe State and former Accountant-General of the Federation,HE. Ibrahim Dankwambo, members of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), State Accountant-Generals, and other Stakeholders.

Other eminent Nigerians expected at the conference includes the Governors of Ekiti, Borno and Kaduna State, Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, and the Governor of the Central Bank, Mr. Godwin Emeifele.

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