Federal Government has disclosed plans to inject a total of N350billion into the economy.
The decision was reached at the end of a two-day retreat for governors members of the National Economic Council (NEC) at the presidential villa in Abuja.
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun made the disclosure alongside Minister of National Planning Udoma Udo Udoma ,Governor of Zamfara state Abdul’aziz Yari who is also chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum and the governor of Anambra state Willi Obiano at a press conference.
According to her, part of the money would help offset the debt owed local contractors who had laid off their workers for lack of funds.
The minister added that the state governors were also advised to reduce the number of political appointees and aides as a way of reducing the cost of governance.
“We deliberated extensively on the drop in revenue particularly as to how it affects the state government and their ability to pay salaries and obligations. The general resolve of the house and consensus was that there was a need to bring in more cost efficiency in their operations. In particular to look at the setting up of the efficiency unit within the state governments, to rationalise expenditure and of course to increase IGR. To that end, there was a need to generate data because data is the basis of any revenue collecting efforts.
“The Federal and state inland revenue services collaborate to do joint audits to invest in revenue, relevant technology and efforts to improve collection. There is a need to develop incentives for both federal and state revenue generating agencies to ensure that there is an alignment of interest. There is a focus at state level on property and consumption taxes to help in improving revenue in a fair manner. Tax payer education must be intensified and to expand the tax base and ensure that there is a buy-in in the revenue collection agencies from the populace.
“State governors were encouraged where possible to rationalize numbers of commissioners and general political appointees and in addition cost control measures to be identified and implemented on an on-going basis and there was a sharing of best practices from a number of states that could be applied elsewhere.
“From the federal ministry of finance in anticipation of the approval of the budget , we have virtually lined up about N350billion which we would be pumping into the Nigerian economy in the forth coming months. We explained our rational and the processes that we have put in place, safe guards 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 objectives from the overall criteria is how many Nigerians would be re-engaged. We are specifically looking at contractors who have laid off staff and how many Nigerians are you 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”.
The retreat also discussed the condition of the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, saying that there was current plan to get a legislative approval and also access N58 billion Naira to rehabilitate the worst classroom.
“We also discussed UBEC and the need to get legislative approval to change the need for counterpart funding on the part of state governments which we feel is putting them further into debt, to reduce that requirement from a temporary period to 10% from the current 50% and that will release an estimated 58 billion Naira that is currently un-accessed and it was discussed that with that money we could possibly address around 1,000 of the worst classrooms in each of the 36 states and rehabilitate them and ofcourse this would also create jobs and economic activity”, she said.
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma stated that the council has resolved to focus on agriculture.
The resolve was in collaboration with the state governments.
He said, Nigeria has slated December 2018 and 2019 to achieve self-sufficiency in both rice and wheat productions.
He also revealed that the state governments had been encouraged to identify at least to crops in their respective states for development just as they were also enjoined to open up some rural and feeder roads in their states.
He said: “At this retreat, we resolved to work together, the federal government and the state to meet the challenges of the economy. We resolved to look at the immediate ways of increasing revenues at the states as well as the federal level.
“We resolved that we will concentrate our effort in diversifying revenue sources particularly, we will concentrate on revamping agriculture which is key. We resolved to set national target for self-sufficiency in a number of identified crops.
“We also resolved that working toegther with the states that by the end of 2018, we will be self-sufficient in rice. That means we are going to expand rice cultivation in very many states to ensure that we can achieve that by 2018. We also resolve that we will work together to achieve self-sufficiency in wheat production in 2019.
“Each state government is encouraged to identify at least two agricultural crops in which they have comparative advantage and will open up rural and feeder roads to facilitate transportation of agricultural produce.
“We also resolved that the Ministry of Solid Minerals will complete and present the solid minerals development raod maps. This framework will address the issues of illegal mining, licences, taxes and royalties and these we presented at the 31 of march 2016.

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“We also resolve to increase investment in infrastructure and to explore public private partnership to resolve this.”

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The governor of Anambra State stated that the council agreed to develop infrastructure and also invest in the people.

In Infrastructure and Services, both federal and state governments would collaborate to “Develop infrastructure delivery plan considering current financial capabilities driven principally by the goal of improvement of the quality of life for the populace; Develop financing model for infrastructure projects; Integrate training and job creation components in infrastructure projects; Implement empowerment and entrepreneurship policies to foster inclusive growth”

“Federal and State Governments to work collaboratively to ensure sustainability of the school feeding and other social protection programmes; Cooperation from the States’ Ministries of Education and State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEBs) for the Teacher Corp program; Provide logistics support on the proposed upgrade of 75 existing National Directorate of Employment (NDE) facilities (across the various States) to Empowerment Centers; Cooperation and coordination with the States on their specific job creation efforts

Also the “State Government support on identified needs such as infrastructure and/or space for innovation hubs; support for artisan training, scoping and support for existing artisan cultures, use of existing training facilities; Institutionalize a single register as a platform for targeting the authentic poorest and vulnerable for safety net programs; for government, donor agency, organizations or individuals; and Creating a delivery mechanism that ensures efficient, consistent timely and direct payments in the remotest parts of the country; Boost productivity and financial inclusion for the poorest and most vulnerable

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Zamfara State Governor and Chairman, Governors forum while speaking also announced that the Council established two different committees to steer and monitor the implementation of all the decisions reached at retreat.

The mandate of the steering committee which is headed and chaired by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo included “To oversee the work of the implementation committee and “To provide appropriate steers to the Implementation Monitoring Committee to ensure that the resolutions agreed at the retreat are duly followed up”

Other members of the committee included Abdulaziz Y. Abubakar, Chairman, Nigeria Governors Forum and Governor of Zamfara State, Govs Adams Oshiomhole of Edo state, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State, Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State, David Umahi
Governor of Ebonyi State, Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State, Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi State, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma,Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Finance, Dr. Okechukwu Enelama, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Chief Audu Ogbe, Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Minister of Solid Minerals, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Works, Power and Housing and Mrs. Nana F Mede, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget and National Planning as Secretary of the committee.

For the implementation monitoring committee, its job was to “To follow up the implementation of the resolutions of the retreat; To receive steers from the Steering Committee regarding the follow up of the implementation and To provide progress reports to the Steering Committee on the implementation

Its membership included Mrs Zainab S. Ahmed, Minister of State, Budget and National Planning (Chairman); Mrs Yosola Akinbi, Senior Technical Adviser to the Vice President on the National Economic Council, Mr. L.O.T. Shittu, DG, Nigeria Governors Forum; Mr. David Olofu, Commissioner for Finance and Planning, Benue State, Mr. Mohammed Kauji, Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning, Borno State, Dr. E.A. Onwiodokif, Comm. for Economic Planning, Akwa Ibom State, Mrs. Aisha M. Bello
Comm. for Budget and Planning, Kano State, Mrs. Aderenle Adesina
Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Ogun State, Mr. Mark Okoye
Special Adviser, Economic Planning and Budget, Anambra State, Mr. Tunde Lawal
Director, Macroeconomic Analysis Department, Fed. Min. BNP, Mr. Kayode Obasa
Director, Economic Growth, FMBN and Mr. A.B. Saadu, Director, Special Duties.