The sum of N350 billion is to be released by the Federal Government into the economy in the coming months as part of initiatives to revive the ailing economy.
The chunk of the money, which is to be disbursed by the Federal Ministry of Finance, will go into the construction sector with a view to mobilizing contractors back to sites of abandoned projects, in the process, stimulating economic activities and creating jobs.
This was one of the decisions reached on Tuesday at the end of a two-day retreat on the economy held at the Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja, and organised by the National Economic Council (NEC) chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The retreat, which was declared opened on Monday by President Muhammadu Buhari, had its theme as “Nigerian States: Multiple Centres of Prosperity”.
The NEC also established two committees to implement the decisions reached at the retreat. They are: Implementation and Steering Committee, chaired by Prof. Osinbajo with some governors across the six geopolitical zones as members while the second is the Implementation and Monitoring Committee, chaired by the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed.
Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum and Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, briefed State House correspondents on the resolutions of NEC. He was accompanied by his Anambra State counterpart, Willie Obiano; Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma and the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun.
According to Adeosun, the N350 billion to be released into the economy will be monitored for strict implementation with safeguards being put in place to ensure that the money is not misappropriated.
“In anticipation of the approval of the (2016) Budget, we have virtually lined up about N350 billion which we would be pumping into the Nigerian economy in the forthcoming months.
“We explained our rationale and the processes that we have put in place, and safeguards to ensure that this money actually achieves the desired objective which is to stimulate the economy.
“We are already discussing with some of the contractors who will be paid these monies and the objective from the overall criteria is how many Nigerians would be re-engaged.
“We are specifically looking at contractors who have laid off workers and how many Nigerians they are going to put back to work as a result of this money that we are planning to release and we believe that this would bring significant economic activity”, she said.
The finance minister further explained that the retreat dealt extensively with the issues surrounding the drop in national revenue, which has adversely affected the states, especially in payment of staff salaries, even as they are implored to cut the costs of their operations.
Towards this end, she said “state governors were encouraged where possible, to rationalise the numbers of commissioners and general political appointees and in addition, put in place cost control measures to be identified and implemented and there was a sharing of best practices from a number of states that could be applied elsewhere”.
Mrs. Adeosun added that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has been directed to collaborate with its state counterparts to generate accurate data and boost internally-generated revenue.
While doing this, emphasis will be placed on diversifying revenue sources and revamping agriculture and allied services.
Other resolutions adopted by the NEC retreat was the establishment of national targets for self-sufficiency in various sectors. For instance, a one year target has been set for tomato paste while self-sufficiency in rice is set for 2018 and wheat (2019).
Each state of the federation is to identify at least two crops in which it has comparative advantage and open up feeder roads to optimise the production and transportation of agricultural produce.
Other areas to be focused on by all tiers of government include solid minerals exploitation and increased investment in infrastructure while exploring more the option of Public/Private Partnerships.
On social welfare, the retreat directed the federal and state governments to partner on more effective implementation of the schools feeding and teacher corps training/employment programmes.