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World Bank Spends $4bn On States – Govs

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Grants, loans and other assistances worth $4billion have been received from the World Bank by several states of the federation.

The Nigeria Governors Forum (NNGF) stated yesterday that the World Bank has spent about $4 billion on projects in various states.

Ekiti State governor and chairman of NGF, Kayode Fayemi, announced the amount after a meeting in Abuja between the governors and officials of the World Bank led by the country director, Rachid Benmessaoud.

Fayemi said that it is important for the governors to work on the engagements with the World Bank in terms of the lending operations, advisory activities and concrete action in their states.

He said that “the bank is spending somewhere in the region of $4 billion on states and some of our states are benefiting from a range of grants, even the loans that we benefit from on the basis of the bank’s investments in our states; these are with long term moratorium and with low interest rate over a long period of time to offset those loan portfolios.

“So, it is important for us to work on that engagement both in terms of the lending operations, in terms of advisory activities and in terms of the concrete action in our states.

“I don’t know of many development partners that have programmes in 36 states; the World Bank does and all of our governors were present in this meeting and that makes the statement about the importance attached to this partnership with the World Bank and we had extensive discussion on how to improve on existing relationship and how to build on those projects that have transitioned from one governor to the other.

“Because periods of transition can be challenging times and it is absolutely important that we treat government as a continuum and address whatever gaps that there are without throwing the baby away with the bath water.

“These are what came out from the investment/lending portfolio programmes, which are the two vehicles that the World Bank uses in their relationship and support in our states,” he said.

Fayemi added that the NGF proposed a range of suggestions which the bank has taken up and will be implementing in order to better the relationship they have built over the years.

He stated that there is a question of not having enough resources and the need to expand the lending portfolio from what it is both to the federal government and the sub-national entities.

According to Fayemi, “it is absolutely important that that vehicle is not closed because if we can borrow from the World Bank at one per cent interest rate, it is always going to be better for us than to borrow at 25 per cent commercial lending rate’ that is a no brainer, we will all agree with that.”

On his part, Benmessaoud said that the bank has been particularly working with the NGF as the important platform for engaging with the sub-national governments beside their engagements at the state level.

He explained that the World Bank mission is to fight poverty and build prosperity, adding that the number of poor people has increased in Nigeria.

Benmessaoud said that fighting poverty in Nigeria and Africa is going to be absolutely critical for reducing poverty globally.

He pointed out that priorities which the bank engaged with the governors will be around investing in human capital to have access to basic education, health services, and social protection.

The World Bank chief said: “But we do recognise that development challenges also require investing in infrastructure and filling the large infrastructure gaps. But with that we want to ensure that those infrastructure gaps are filled by bringing more of the private sector, so that will enable us to create the physical space for governors to invest in human capital including financing from development partners like the world bank, but most importantly to increase the domestic revenue mobilisation for providing primary spending on the social sector.

“Therefore, the World Bank has the large part of its engagement at the state level. What we have done in this workshop hosted by the NGF is to go over the portfolio at the state level and how it can accelerate the implementation of the programmes.

“The portfolio ranges from health, education, soil erosion, water and it has a lot of investments that are also performance based, where the state is rewarded on the basis of performance on certain indicators,” he said.

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