FG tasks financial institutions to fund N1.8tn COVID-19 stimulus package

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FG tasks financial institutions to fund N1.8tn COVID-19 stimulus package

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FG tasks financial institutions to fund N1.8tn COVID-19 stimulus package by : 9:48 am On April 23, 2021

The federal government has declared that financial institutions would fund COVID-19 economic stimulus package of N1.8tn of its N2.3tn.

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The government also announced that N288bn from the N500bn of the package funded through the 2021 budget has so far been released, adding that it was currently in the process of releasing a second batch.

The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba,  disclosed this on the side-lines of the National Steering Committee meeting of the Nigeria Open Government Partnership in Abuja.

Speaking on measures adopted to salvage the economy from collapse as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Agba said the N2.3tn stimulus package had to be deployed.

According to him, “And there are basically two sources of funding the N2.3tn. The first N500bn had to come from special accounts, which were embedded in the revised budget.

 “And then the other N1.8tn, which has programmes that were set up to be financed through the financial institutions.

“And we had negotiated a five per cent interest rates with a one year moratorium just to ensure that we are able to grow agriculture, look after the MSMEs and support the aviation sector.”

The minister added that government also made provisions for the states, as it stopped the repayment of loans collected by the states.

He said, “We also made some provisions for the states for their survival. Like you know, the states had some bailout funds that they got from borrowings.

“We had to stop the repayment, both the principal and the interest for a year. These are measures that had to be taken to get the economy going.”

Agba said the measures eventually paid off, as the country posted a positive GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Asked to state how much of the N2.3tn stimulus package had so far been injected into the economy, the minister replied, “For the N500bn which comes from the budget, we have released about N288bn to deal with those issues.

He noted that the rate of post harvest losses was very high and so the creation of access from the market to the rural areas was seen as a low hanging fruit that the government needed to address.

He said, “So we have about 377 rural roads currently ongoing across 266 rural agrarian communities. I’ve gone round to visit some of them myself. I’ve been to Enugu, Imo, Edo, Nasarawa, looking at what has been done and I’m impressed.

“On the health side, where we are also trying to build resilience in the health system, before now, a lot of samples had to be taken out of this country for diagnosis, just to know what the problem was.

“This was because we didn’t have molecular labs. The country has just about two, but we are currently building 52 molecular labs in the 52 federal medical centres and university teaching hospitals.”

He said the government was also building 10 bedded Intensive Care Units in each of the institutions, adding that this meant additional 520 beds.

The minister said: “We are also building isolation centres in these 52 institutions. We’ve provided them PPEs to take them for the next two years. That’s just in the health sector.

“We are working on the rehabilitation of roads and bridges across the country in the six geopolitical zones. So these works have to be completed before  more monies are released. But we are currently in the process of releasing the second batch to the MDAs (ministries, departments and agencies).”

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