OUR RECOVERY FROM COVID PANDEMIC HAS BEEN SUSTAINABLY GOOD AND ENCOURAGING – FINANCE MINISTER

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The last couple of years presented a series of challenges to the entire nation and the globe at large, but the good news is that our recovery rate from the COVID-19 pandemic has been sustainably good and encouraging, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. (Dr.) Zainab S. Ahmed, has observed.

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 Mrs. Ahmed who stated this, Tuesday, in Lagos, at the opening ceremony of the 2021conference of the National Council on Finance and Economic Development (NACOFED) said things are now looking up for Nigeria with its economy  bouncing back to normal.

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The Minister disclosed that this year’s conference, with the theme “Public Sector Finance Management in the New Normal (Post COVID -19)”holding from 15th -16th November, 2021 at Marriot Hotel, Lagos, 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, adding that, 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.

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She also reiterated that the country has exited recession and in order to consolidate on this achievement, government is taking further proactive measures to develop policies aimed at improving the various sectors of the nation’s economy, adding that the effort government created six years ago, have been instrumental in closing out the revenue gap created by the pandemic.

The Minister also hinted that she is delighted by the commitments shown by the 36 State governments in implementing the different reforms of Federal Government, disclosing that the Federal Government recently concluded arrangements with the World Bank to further make available another sum of $750million as additional  financing for states under the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS)  programme.

Mrs. Ahmed stated that the Federal Government recently cut down the interest rate on intervention facilities from 9% to 5% per annum, adding that, President Muhammadu 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, disclosing that, already, the modalities of the facility’s disbursement had been worked out and is expected to commence soon.

The Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in his keynote address, thanked the Federal Government for its implementation of various initiatives to boost the economy, adding that all hands must be on deck to rebuild from the destructions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that “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 sectors to focus more on exploring ways to do more with less or little. We also need to optimize spending by cutting down wastages and excesses, be creative, create avenues for revenue, expand innovations, avoid unnecessary spending and create transparent ways and tendencies that will yield maximum value for every spending.”

The Governor while declaring the conference open also added that “we need to roll up our sleeves and do the needful.”

Earlier in his welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Finance, Mr. Aliyu Ahmed, had stated that various recommendations of NACOFED conferences in the past had served as inputs for preparation of annual budgets as well as for policy formulation towards economic growth and development at both the national and sub-national levels, adding that, this forum will discuss topical issues of national interest and proffer suggestions towards charting the best way forward for the country.

Mr. Ahmed noted that he is optimistic that, with the resource persons lined up for the paper presentation and discussion, justice will 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 has 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 Committee on  Appropriation, former Governor of Gombe State and former Accountant-General of the Federation, Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwambo, members of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), State Accountants-General, and other stakeholders.

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

  • Courtesy:  Olajide Oshundun, Ag.Director (Information)

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