Nigeria’s recovery rate from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been sustainably good and encouraging, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said.
The Minister stated this in her opening remarks at the opening of the 2021 conference of the National Council on Finance and Economic Development (NACOFED) in Lagos.
The theme of the conference is “Public Sector Finance Management in the New Normal (Post COVID -19)”.
The Minister said despite the series of challenges presented to Nigeria and the globe at large in the last couple of years, the good news was that things are now looking up for the country, as the economy is bouncing back to normal.
This year’s conference, the Minster said, was carefully chosen to draw attention of managers and practitioners in public sector finance management to the challenges and opportunities posed by the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s economy.
She said the conference was also to provide a forum to proffer ways forward, as well as provide a veritable platform for stakeholders in the public and private sector financial management to brainstorm on issues relating to the impact, implications, challenges and opportunities created by the pandemic.
Ahmed also restated her confidence that the country has exited recession, adding that in order to consolidate on this achievement, government was taking further proactive measures to develop policies aimed at improving the various sectors of our economy.
The effort of the government created six years ago have been instrumental in closing out the revenue gap created by the pandemic, she said.
The Minister also hinted that she was delighted by the commitments shown by the 36 State governments in implementing the different reforms of Federal Government.
She said the Federal Government recently concluded arrangements with the World Bank to further make available another $750million as Additional financing for States under the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme.
“The Federal Government recently cut-down the interest rate on intervention facilities from 9 percent to 5 percent per annum, while President Buhari has approved a Bridging facility in the sum of N656.1 billion to be granted to States over a period of six months towards cushioning the effect of the resumption in the repayment of the three FGN Bailout facilities,” she said.
Already, she said the modalities of the facility had been worked out and the disbursement is expected to commence soon.
The Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwolu in his keynote address thanked the Federal Government for its implementation of various initiatives to boost the economy.
The governor said all hands must be on deck to rebuild from the destructions occasioned by this COVID–19 pandemic.
“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,” he said.
While declaring the conference open, the governor said: “We need to roll up our sleeves and do the needful”.
Earlier the Permanent Secretary Finance, Aliyu Ahmed, said 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.
He said the forum would discuss topical issues of national interest and proffer suggestions towards charting the best way forward for the country.
Ahmed expressed optimism that justice would be done to the theme of the conference to enable participants learn new strategies, approaches and ideas that would help them to better manage the resources for delivery of good governance to our citizens at all level.