Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmend has said, the N656.1 billion new bail-out fund to state governments is to ensure that the economic recovery of the country is consolidated.
Ahmed, speaking at the 2021 conference of the National Council on Finance and Economic Development (NACOFED) with the theme “Public Sector Finance Management in the New Normal (Post COVID -19)” said government is working to ensure that the county does not return into a recession.
With the repayments of the three bail-out facilities to states expected to commence, Ahmed explained that the N656.1 billion which will be paid out over a period of six months will help cushion the effects of the repayment on state government finances.
Noting that the modalities of the facility had been worked out and the disbursement is expected to commence soon, she said, the federal government had also cut-down the interest rate on intervention facilities from nine per cent to fie per cent per annum.
Asides this, she said, the federal government had also concluded arrangements with the World Bank to further make available another sum of $750 as Additional financing for States under the States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme
Ahmed stated that while the last couple of years presented series of challenges to the entire nation and the globe at large, “the good news is that our recovery rate from the pandemic has been sustainably good and encouraging. Things are now looking up for us and our economy is bouncing back to normal.
She also reiterated that the country has exited recession and in order to consolidate on this achievement, government is taking further proactive measures to develop policies aimed at improving the various sectors of our economy, adding that, the effort government created 6 years ago, have been instrumental in closing out the revenue gap created by the pandemic.
On his part, the Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-olu stressed the need for all stakeholders including the state governments to join hands with the federal government in rebuilding the country. “We need to roll up our sleeves and do the needful.
“We need to think outside the box, indulge on job and wealth creation by walking the rope, compelling both those in the private and public sector to focus more on exploring ways to do more with less or little.
“Optimize spending by cutting down wastages and excesses, be creative, create avenues for revenue creation, expand innovations, avoid unnecessary spending and create a transparent ways and tendencies that will yield maximum value for every spending”.
Earlier the Permanent Secretary Finance, Mr. Aliyu Ahmed, during his welcome address, stated that, various recommendations of NACOFED conferences in the past served as inputs for preparation of annual budgets as well as for policy formulation towards economic growth and development at both the federal and sub-national levels, adding that, this forum will discuss topical issues of national interest and proffer suggestions towards charting the best way forward for the country.
Ahmed noted that he is optimistic that with the resource persons lined up for the paper presentation and discussion, justice will be done to the theme of the conference and participants will use the opportunity to learn new strategies, approaches and ideas that will help them to better manage the resources for delivery of good governance to our citizens at all level.