Buhari approves bridging facilities of N656bn to states – Finance Minister  

Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed said on Monday that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved a bridging facility of N656.1 billion to be granted to states over a period of six months towards cushioning the effect in the repayment of the three FGN Bailout facilities.

The Minister said this at the opening of the National Council on Finance and Economic Development Conference in Lagos, she also stated that already the modalities for the repayment of the facility had been worked out and the disbursement was expected to commence soon.

She said the Federal Government recently reduced interest rate on intervention facilities from 9 per cent to 5 per cent per annum, stressing that although the last couple of years presented a series of challenges to the entire nation and the globe at large, however “the good news is that our recovery rate from the pandemic has been sustainably good and encouraging”, adding that, “things are now looking up for us and our economy is bouncing back to normal.”

Ahmed said this year’s conference with the theme, “Public Sector Finance Management in the New Normal (Post COVID -19)”, 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 and to proffer ways forward.

“It also provides 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.”

She said that the country had exited recession and in order to consolidate on this achievement, “the government is taking further proactive measures to develop policies aimed at improving the various sectors of our economy.”

The minister said she was delighted by the commitments shown by the 36 State governments in implementing the different reforms of Federal Government, noting that the Federal Government recently 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.

In his keynote address, Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu thanked the Federal Government for implementating the various initiatives to boost the economy, adding that all hands must be on deck to rebuild from the destructions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He added that “we need to think outside the box, indulge in 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 Ministry Finance, Mr Aliyu Ahmed 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 state government levels.

Mr Ahmed said that he is optimistic that with the resource persons lined up for the paper presentation and discussion, justice would 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.

The Conference had in attendance, Senate Committee Chairman on Finance, Sen. Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, Hon. Kabiru Idris, Chairman House Committee on Development Partners and also a member of the House Appropriation Committee, former Governor of Gombe State and former Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr Ibrahim Dankwambo, members of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), State Accountant-Generals, and other Stakeholders.

Other eminent Nigerians expected at the two-day conference include, the Governors of Ekiti, Borno and Kaduna State, Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, and the Governor of the Central Bank, Mr. Godwin Emefiele.