By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says the Federal Government’s COVID-19 stimulus package under the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) has been helpful.
Osinbajo’ spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Monday, said the vice president chaired a virtual meeting of the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) measuring implementation of the plan.
The vice president said that the COVID-19 stimulus package helped the Nigerian economy to avoid collapse as feared.
According to the vice president over two million jobs have been both created and saved with the implementation of ESP.
“Although the target of N2.3 trillion estimated to be spent under the plan has not been achieved just as yet, the Federal Government appropriation part of that total being N500 billion has been completely released by the end of May.
“This makes it possible to attain several objectives of the ESP directly supporting a few million Nigerians.
“While a total of 2,100,021 jobs have been saved and created all together, the breakdown of the figures indicate that 1.3 million jobs have been retained through interventions in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) space, including the Payroll Support.
“ The 774,000 jobs from the Public Works Programme and 26,021 Jobs from construction /rehabilitation projects across the country were among those freshly created.
Osinbajo said that the 100 per cent release of funds appropriated in the budget for the programme was commendable.
He urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to expedite action on the release of funding components of the ESP.
“Our budget funds were released in total. I thank the Honorable Minister of Finance for ensuring that it was done promptly, which means, in effect, that as far as the budget goes, we have been able to do what we practically promised to do.
“I know that if we were able to infuse N2.3 trillion into the Nigerian economy, we will not have the employment figures that we have today, we will not have the problems that we have today, they will be significantly reduced.
“Even with what we are able to do with the budget, growth figures at least indicate that things have not degenerated as badly as many had thought.
“So, you can imagine what we could have done if we were able to fully implement what we thought we would be able to implement. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case,’’ he said.
He said that response would soon be received from CBN on more funds that expected to make some progress on the implementation.
In an update, Clem Agba, Minister of State for Budget and Planning, said that construction/rehabilitation of 3,707 klilometres Federal roads across the federation under Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) was at 65 per cent completion.
In the agricultural sector, he said that over six million farmers had been enumerated as 3.6 million passed the first stage of validation while 2.4 million scaled the second validation stage.
The minister added that 129,000 crop farmers and 38, 333 animal farmers had been profiled for the Interest Free Loan Support for the dry season farming cycle.
He added that under the COVID-19 intervention programme for the health sector, the establishment of 520 Intensive Care Units (ICU) Beds, 52 Molecular Laboratories and Isolation Centres at Federal Tertiary Hospitals is at 67 per cent completion.
The Minister also reported that 485 water points had been constructed/rehabilitated by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources across the federation.
Agba said N500 billion representing 100 per cent of the total sum in the budget had been released to all the programmes of the ESP as at May 30.
The minister said that the economic cluster received N202.462 billion which represented 100 per cent of the appropriation to the cluster while N61.589 billion which also represents 100 per cent appropriation was released for the creation of jobs for youth and women.
“The Social Intervention Programme and Support to Persons of Concern received N34.957 billion; WASH Programme and Energy Support to Vulnerable Communities received N22.315 billion.
“Support for building a resilient health system received N116 billion; support for the operations of Security Forces was put at N15.674 billion, and the 36 States of the Federation received N50 billion,” he said.
Other members of the ESC present at the meeting included, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo and Minister of Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Labour Employment, and representative of the CBN Governor, among other officials also participated in the meeting.