The Federal Government plans to pump N350 billion into the economy in the coming months as part of moves to jump-start the struggling national economy.
The chunk of the money, which is to be released by the Federal Ministry of Finance, will go into the construction sector with a view to mobilizing contractors back to abandoned project sites, thus stimulating economic activities and creating jobs.
This is one of the resolutions adopted on Tuesday at the end of a two-day retreat on the economy organised by the National Economic Council (NEC) chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The retreat, which had its theme as “Nigerian States: Multiple Centres of Prosperity”, established two committees to implement the resolutions reached.
The Implementation and Steering Committee is chaired by Prof. Osinbajo, with some governors across the six geopolitical zones as members.
The second committee, which is on Implementation and monitoring, is chaired by the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed.
The Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum and Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, briefed the press on the resolutions of NEC. He was accompanied by his counterpart from Anambra State, Willie Obiano; Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma and the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun.
Adeosun disclosed that 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.
Her words: “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 minister 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.
According to her, “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.”
She said 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 laid on diversifying revenue sources and revamping agriculture and allied services.
The retreat also established for the federal government 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 collaborate on more effective implementation of the schools feeding and teacher corps training/employment programmes.