A N2.3 trillion stimulus plan has been approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to enable the economy survive the COVID-19- induced depression.
Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister Mrs. Zainab Ahmed told reporters at the State House in Abuja after the virtual FEC meeting, that the approved followed recommendation by the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC), headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
According to the minister, the plan, tagged: “The Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP)”, came out of series of consultations, some of which were with the National Assembly and the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) and governors.
The NESP target, she said, is to create jobs, put money into the economy, hopefully stop it slipping into recession, support small businesses and prioritise local content (Made-in-Nigeria).
Mrs. Ahmed described the plan as a 12-month ‘Transit’ Plan between the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and the ERGP-successor-plan currently being worked upon.
She said: “The total package that we presented today is in the sum of N2.3 trillion and N500 billion of it is a stimulus package that is already provided for in the amended 2020 Appropriations Act.
“These are funds that we have sourced from special accounts. We also have N1.2 trillion of these funds to be sourced as structured low-cost loans which are interventions from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) 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 respond to the triple problem of 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 severe impact of COVID-19 as a result of lockdowns. Specially, the hotel industry, private schools, restaurants as well as the transport sector have been very well impacted by this.
“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 stand still that we witnessed as a result of lockdowns.
“Council was able to take our reports and the interventions in the plan are 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 cresting jobs opportunities to enhance jobs sufficiency.
“So, we expect for road construction for instance, we expect 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.
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“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 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, meant to be implemented quickly.
“To that effect, the FEC 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 minister said.