Zainab Ahmed, the minister of finance, budget and national planning, announced the fiscal stimulus measures to be carried out by the federal government in response to COVID-19 pandemic.
Briefing journalists in Abuja on Monday, Ahmed said the measures would be in addition to the interventions already announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Here are nine measures listed by the finance minister:
ENGAGE 774,000 NIGERIANS
According to the minister, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the engagement of 774, 000 Nigerians on special public works programme implemented by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE).
This, she said, would translate to 1,000 people from the 774 local governments in the country.
“Mr President has now approved that this programme is extended to all 36 states and the FCT from October 2020 to December 2020. The selected timeframe is to ensure that the programme is implemented after the planting season is over, and it will result in the employment of about 774,000 Nigerians (that is, 1,000 people per each local government). N60 billion in allowances and operational costs have been earmarked from the COVID-19 crisis intervention fund for this initiative,” she said.
SHARE RICE SEIZED BY CUSTOMS
To solve the imminent risk posed to food security, she said the president has “approved grains from strategic grain reserves. The Nigerian Customs had in its custody a lot of rice that have been seized. There are 150 trucks of rice that are now handed over to the humanitarian ministry for distribution to the states across the federation”.
REQUEST TO GET $82 MILLION FOR NCDC FROM WORLD BANK
According to the minister, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has access to a regional disease surveillance system (REDISSE) facility which is worth $90 million.
The agency is said to have drawn $8 million from the facility and there is already a request to draw the remaining $82 million.
“The government has also requested for additional financing in the sum of $100 million from the REDISSE project to meet COVID-19 emergency needs in all the 36 States and the FCT, through the NCDC and federal ministry of health. This will enable us to expand the capacity of intensive care units (‘ICUs’), enhance laboratory capacity, accelerate the procurement of test kits, strengthen surveillance mechanisms as well as improve information management.”
REQUEST $6.9 BILLION FROM IMF, WORLD BANK AND AFDB
Ahmed said the federal government has requested for a total of $6.9 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank Group and African Development Bank (AfDB).
Giving a breakdown, $3.4 billion has been requested from the IMF COVID-19 rapid credit facility. The money is part of Nigeria’s holdings with the Bretton Wood institutions and would not be tied to any conditionalities
A $2.5 billion request has been submitted to the World Bank and $1 billion request submitted to the African Development Bank.
INCREASE HAZARD ALLOWANCE OF FEDERAL HEALTH WORKERS
Health workers who are in the employ of the federal civil service would see their hazard allowances “enhanced”
“The federal government enjoins the affected states to take similar measures,” the finance minister said.
N500 BILLION COVID-19 INTERVENTION FUND
President Muhammadu Buhari, she said, has approved the establishment of a N500 billion COVID-19 intervention fund to upgrade medical facilities that have been identified by the presidential task force on COVID-19.
The fund would also be used to finance the creation of a special public works programme and fund any additional interventions that may be approved.
SUSPEND LOAN REPAYMENTS WHEN FAAC ALLOCATIONS REACH A CERTAIN THRESHOLD
In her address, the finance minister said: “Mr President has also approved that the federal ministry of finance, budget and national planning should engage with the CBN to agree on a debt and interest moratorium for states on federal government and CBN-funded loans, in order to create fiscal space for the states given the projected shortfalls in FAAC allocations.
“Accordingly, once monthly average FAAC receipts fall below a specific threshold, interest and capital payments by states shall be suspended till monthly average FAAC receipts exceed the threshold. The details of this moratorium will be expeditiously worked out with a view to submitting the final proposals for Mr President’s guidance and final approvals.”
REDUCE 2020 BUDGET SIZE, PROJECTIONS
The benchmark oil price for 2020 appropriation act has been cut to $30/barrel from $57 and oil production to 1.7 million barrels per day.
“We have similarly had to adjust downwards our non-oil revenue projections including various tax and customs receipts, as well as proceeds of privatisation exercises,” Ahmed said.
ENGAGE WITH CORPORATES TO KNOW WHAT THEY WANT THE MOST
Responding to questions about the interventions made available for corporates, the minister said the 2020 finance act has catered for micro, small and medium scale enterprises by offering them tax exemptions.
She said the government will engage other corporates to know what they want the most.
“We don’t want to go and say that we are reducing taxes for companies. Some of the companies, for example, the pharmaceutical industry, what they would want is fast track processes to bring in materials to produce more drugs.
“We’ll be giving them import duty waivers, we’ll be giving them support to air freight their cargo because supply chains are broken across the world, there is a need to fast track import of materials that are needed to produce drugs within the country so we have to have those engagements to be more specific.”
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