By Salisu Sani-Idris
The Federal Government said the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (NG CARES) Programme had impacted over two million poor and vulnerable beneficiaries in the 36 States and the FCT.
The Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, made the disclosure at a news briefing in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said the impact was part of efforts to achieve the core objectives of the Economic Sustainability Plan created by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Agba also stated that the results of the first round of assessment of NG-CARES implementation showed that the states and the FCT were improving on their strides to alleviate poverty.
” This is a testament to the success of the programme so far.
”You will recall that to ensure a seamless implementation of the programme and noting the challenge of paucity of funds by the states and the FCT, the Federal Government provided an initial advance of N35.3 billion to all the 36 states and the FCT in March 2022.
“This was with a plan to recover the one-off advance during reimbursement.
“Within one year of giving out the advance, many states were able to achieve appreciable results.
“This informed the Federal Government’s approval to release earned reimbursement to the states and the FCT based on their outstanding performance,” he said.
Agba assured that Buhari’s administration would strive to deliver development to the poor, vulnerable and the underserved before handing over to the next administration.
“As you may be aware, the Federal Government sought and obtained a 750 million USD credit facility from the World Bank to support the 36 states and the FCT in the implementation of the NG-CARES Programme.
“The purpose of the support is to mitigate the economic and social shocks faced by poor and vulnerable Nigerians as a result of the lockdown during the COVID-19 crisis.
“The credit is on-lent to the 36 states and the FCT with each state allocated 20 million dollars ex-ante and the FCT 15 million dollars.
” It is a multi-sectoral programme designed to provide immediate emergency relief across various sectors to vulnerable and poor Nigerians, smallholder farmers and Small and Medium Enterprises that were adversely affected by the pandemic,” the minister said.
Agba further said that based on results earned by the 36 states and the FCT, the Federal Government on April 13, disbursed N45.3 billion to 29 states and the FCT.
He said that Zamfara emerged the best performing state after the round of assessment and therefore, received the highest amount of N5.2 billion from the total disbursed sum of N45.3 billion.
Agba, however, said that out of the 36 states and the FCT that were participating in the NG-CARES programme, seven states were unable to repay the advance, while only Imo did not earn any result in the first round.
” For the purpose of clarification, let it be noted that if a state does not receive a reimbursement during the current round, it is still eligible for reimbursement during subsequent rounds.
” In order to qualify, states must adhere to set guidelines outlined in the programmes’ Financing Agreement, Funds Release Policy and Independent Verification Agent Protocol,” Agba said.
The minister added that going forward, there would be more assessments and any eligible state or the FCT that met the criteria would be reimbursed accordingly (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Chinyere Bassey/Bashir Rabe Mani