COVID-19: FEC okays N2.3trn economic stimulus plan

• Gives nod to N122.2 for road contracts

The Federal Executive Council (FEC), on Wednesday, approved a N2.3 trillion economic stimulus package designed by the committee on the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) headed by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

The virtual council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari took the action as part of plans to support the Nigerian economy to prevent it from sliding into a serious recession in the face of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, who briefed State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, said the committee had extensive consultations with National Assembly and the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) and State governors.

She said: “The total package that we presented today is in the sum of N2.3 trillion, N500 billion of this is a stimulus package that is already provided for in the amended in the 2020 Appropriations Act.

“These are funds that we have sourced from special accounts. We also have N1.2 trillion of this funds to be sourced as structured low-cost loans which are interventionary from the Central Bank of Nigeria as well as other development partners and institutions.

“We have N344 billion that will be sourced from bilateral and external sources and also additional funds that we can source locally.

“There is a strategy that has been adopted and this whole plan is to enable us to respond to the triple problem of the low exchange rate, youth unemployment as well as negative growth which is facing us now.

“The plan has to also support small businesses that have suffered a severe impact of COVID-19 as a result of lockdowns. Especially, the hotel industry, private schools, restaurants as well as the transport sector have been very well impacted by this.

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“We have also seen a significant impact on the poor and the vulnerable and even people that were okay as small traders have been hard hit by standstill that we witnessed as a result of lockdowns.

“Council was able to take our reports and the interventions in the plan is that we prevent businesses from collapsing and also to infuse liquidity around the Nigerian economy, to create jobs using labour-intensive methods such as agriculture, facility management, housing, construction, direct labour interventions that will create a lot of jobs very quickly.

“We had also proposed in the plan to undertake growth-enhancing jobs, creating infrastructure investments in roads, bridges, solar power, communications technology and several others.

“We have promoted in the plan manufacturing and local production at all levels, we are advocating for the use of made in Nigeria in all of these public works that we will be doing as a way of creating jobs opportunities to enhance jobs sufficiency.

“So we expect for road construction, for instance, the minister of works not buy bitumen but to consider the use of gemstones and cement or other materials that can be used here, that way we converse our resources and will also be able to ignite other sectors within the economy.

“The same thing for housing as well. The design is to have 300,000 houses built using standard designs that will be done by the ministry of works and housing but using strictly low-cost materials. On the building sites, the plan is to have carpenters and others that will have a multiplier effect on the economy.

“The third pillar for us is to ensure rigorous implementation and this is important because this is a 12-month plan that is meant to pull our economy from sliding into a deep recession. It will also be a plan that will anchor to the successor period that we have already started working on.

“It is a 12-month plan, a transit plan meant to be implemented quickly. To that effect, the federal executive council has agreed that the procurement processes become relaxed in a manner that we are adopting a faster mood as opposed to using the longer procurement process. With the National Assembly passing the budget, we have funding ready to go but we need procurement to be done quickly so that this money can be put to immediate use.”

The Goals of the NESP are to create jobs, put money into the economy, hopefully, stop it slipping into recession, support small businesses and prioritize local content (Made-in-Nigeria).

The NESP is a 12-month ‘Transit’ Plan between The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and the ERGP-successor-plan currently being worked upon.

FEC also approved road contracts worth N122. 280 billion.

Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who disclosed this during the briefing, said the contracts are expected to generate employment for 2,564 persons.

Giving a breakdown of the contracts, he said: “Dualisation of Akure to Ado Ekiti road connecting Ondo and Ekiti states at the sum of N23. 751 billion; construction of Ukana-Akpautong-Ikot Ntuen road in Akwa Ibom State, for N1. 538 billion; construction of Iluke-Aiyetoro Kiri-Abugi-Eggan road in Kogi State for, Kogi State for N25.352 billion; rehabilitation of Odo-Ona Elewe Idiayunre-Marou Ogun State border road in Oyo state for N4. 628, 429 billion, and construction of Tamawa-Gulu road in Kano state phase three, Maigar-Guru section for N1. 508, 952 billion.

Others are rehabilitation of Potiskum-Fika-Bajoga-Gombe road linking Yobe and Gombe states for N59. 759 billion, and construction of Kachako-Danbazzau road in Kano State for N6. 749 billion.

Fashola said the council approved the award of the roads for implementation under the 2020 Appropriation.

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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