By Etuka Sunday
The Minister for Finance , Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed said, the Federal Government has made available an estimated N2.3 trillion stimulus package to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.
Mrs Ahmed disclosed this at the the three- Day Fourth National Workshop on COVID-19 And the Global Economy: Implications on the Nigerian National Treasury which took place at Ibom Hall, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Represented by the Minister of State on budget and planning, Prince Clem Agba, Mrs Ahmed affirmed commitment to grow Nigerian Economy in spite of the COVID-19 and the dwindling revenue from oil.
“We have on ground strategy geared towards the expansion of Government’s activities to cushion the effect of the pandemic with the estimated stimulus package made available by the Federal Government of Nigeria in the tune of 2.3 trillion”, she said.
The Minister of Finance while speaking lauded the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Deacon Udom Emmanuel and the members of the State Executive Council for accepting to Host the 4th National Treasury Workshop in the State.
The Minister noted that the theme of the workshop was very apt and has effectively captured the mood of the Nation , given the dwindling revenue profile of the country and the attendant challenges in the cash flow occasioned by the COVID 19 Pandemic.
“knowing the enormity of the challenges posed by the pandemic therefore calls for prudent management of whatever fund that is available in the most accountable , efficient and transparent manner”
We must devise better , more effective and robust administrative mechanisms that will update and enlighten our various principals about the reality staring us in the face which is the paucity of funds and how to resolve the revenue challenges.
The Minister also assured that inspite of the impact of COVID 19 and the dwindling revenue from oil , there is on ground enormous strategies that will help in the continuous expansion of Government activities to cushion the effect of the pandemic .
“These packages consisted, to a large extent , of a combination of fiscal and monetary policies, sectoral interventions, and social programmes .the fiscal and monetary policies were support to States, businesses, households, and individuals through grants ,tax, relief, payroll support,tariff reduction,and direct support to the health sector”
“ We also take steps to increase our non oil revenue generation. These steps included but not limited to VAT reforms in finance Act 2020( maintaining the increase in VAT rate to.7.5%), custom Administration Enhancement , Tax incentives and exemptions,increased remittances, and recovery of unremitted revenues from cross- border business transactions, unlocked value from FG assets that were lying idle or under utilised” she said.
The Director Information, Press & PR, OAGF, Henshaw Ogubike in a statement said, the Accountant General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris, called on managers of the country’s economy, economic experts to come up with strategies and practices that could be deployed in the effective management of inevitable financial challenges such as that caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He maintained that the reality of the pains inflicted on the Nigerian economy and the national treasury by the COVID-19 pandemic has made it overtly imperative to fashion out ways to effectively manage the economy during pandemics and handle any pandemic-induced financial challenges.
Idris tasked the economic experts and government officials to come up with viable ideas that will, among other things, help the country withstand financial shock caused by any pandemic and also help control aggregate cash flows within fiscal, monetary and legal limits to improve the management of critical government borrowings.
He said strategies and approaches should be evolved that will also help establish and sustain the consciousness of and accountability for public expenditure, efficient budget execution and resource allocation as well as effective public service delivery that accords value for money at all times.
In his address,the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Deacon Udom Emmanuel thanked the Accountant General of the Federation , Ahmed Idris , FCNA, and his entire team for bringing the Fourth National Treasury Workshop to the State
“ Let me also , specifically welcome the Honourable Minister of Finance, Dr.Mrs ,Zainab Ahmed to our State. It is assuring and proactive in context and breathe , the desire of the organizers of this workshop, as part of the global financial architecture , to look into ways and means of positioning the Nigerian Economy in the post – COVID-19 era: the implications for our growth and development, which essentially forms the theme of the workshop”
Governor Udom who was very optimistic of the success of the workshop maintained that the workshop is very timely and will help to fast tract the economy recovery process of the Federal Government.
“ Yes you may ask why am saying this? Well, in May last year , in the thick of COVID-19 pandemic, when the world as we knew it was shut down , and the future of the world Economy was in dire straits, it became exceedingly imperative that we came up with new approaches to growing our Economy band adapt new ways of engagements in line with the realities brought upon us , by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The workshop also witnessed arrays of Goodwill messages from Government functionaries and stakeholders in global Economy reformation sector.
Highpoints of the workshop were paper presentations by seasoned scholars , communique presentation.