Some governors to join ESC in implementing economic sustainability plan – Osinbajo
By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Abuja, July 9, 2020(NAN) Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says some state governors may soon join the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC), as the implementation of the economic sustainability plan proceeds.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement, said the Vice President disclosed this while presiding over a virtual meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) on Thursday at the Presidential Villa.
The governors had made a presentation at the NEC on how the states could collaborate effectively with the Federal Government on the implementation of the recently approved N2.3 trillion stimulus programme.
They welcomed the plan and expressed commitment to work with the Federal Government.
Osinbajo said that two state governors could join the committee for the implementation phase of the plan as such would not only be helpful but bring synergy.
“Besides, state governments will also be actively involved in the process of executing projects in the plan, especially such projects based in the domains of respective states, in collaboration with other stakeholders and partners,’’ he said.
President Muhmmadu Buhari, had while receiving the report of the ESC, described it as a ‘National Plan’ which had gone through wide consultations.
Meanwhile, Gov. Nasir El-rufai of Kaduna State virtually briefed State House correspondents after the NEC meeting.
El-Rufai, who is also the Chairman of the NGF ad hoc committee on the collaborative implementation of the National Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP), commended the Osinbajo-led ESC for a job well-done.
He said state governments were committed to the successful implementation of the plan.
“The presentation we made to NEC is the consensus of the governors in reaction to the Economic Sustainability Plan.
“First, all the state governments expressed gratitude to the President, FEC, Minister of Finance, CBN Governor and other agencies for coming up with this plan.
“All the 36 states governors deliberated on the plan and fully supported and endorsed every aspect of it.’’
According to El-Rufai, the governors recognise the role that they have to play in implementing this plan in separate areas.
“In agriculture, each state is to make available 20 hectares of land for cultivation and with the contribution of lands from States.
“In Mass housing, NEC welcomes the plan to build 300,000 housing units across the country with an average of ten thousand homes per State,” he said.
He said there was need for a nationwide mortgage system to support the plan.(NAN)
Edited By: Felix Ajide (NAN)
Buhari challenges Economic Team on Nigeria’s quick exit from under-development
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Abuja challenged members of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) to do more to help the country exit “our very terrible state of development.”
The president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement said Buhari gave the challenge during a virtual audience with members of the PEAC.
The president said: “We are a country characterised by a large population of poor people, serious infrastructure deficit, lack of housing and a vulnerable economy now haunted by the COVID-19 pandemic and collapse of the oil sector and its effect on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).’’
Buhari however appreciated the outstanding support and guidance provided by the PEAC which he described as a “tutorial”.
While making a presentation to the president, the PEAC had commended the administration for implementing several of its recommendations, even as it presented the government with “a number of tough choices to make in order to put the country’s economy on a higher growth path’’.
The Chairman of PEAC, Prof. Doyin Salami, who led the presentation, specifically expressed delight with the ongoing review of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the 2020 Budget in view of the disruptions caused by COVID-19 as well as the adjustment of the exchange rate of the Naira.
Salami also lauded the government for the deregulation of the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS); approval for the implementation of the Oronsaye Report on the need to rationalise and restructure federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
He, however, noted that more needed to be done to increase efficiency, coordination and accountability on the part of MDAs.
The PEAC welcomed the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) produced by the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) headed by the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, and adopted by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The economic team, however, warned that in the implementation of the N2.3 trillion ESC spending plan, there could arise a number of problems which, if unattended, could hamper smooth implementation.
The committee advised, among others, that the ESP should be implemented using existing institutional and administrative structures and attention be paid to sources of funding to avoid inflation.
It stated that government must ensure that priorities, targets and time limits be set for all projects to make for their completion within the 12-month life-span of the ESP, and where this is not achieved, such projects should be rolled into the new Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP II).
The PEAC recommended that the ESP must promote “export-oriented production strategies”, and to ensure the use of local resources; curtail post-harvest losses in agriculture now put at between 40-60 per cent.
The committee stressed the need to make the economy attractive to “non-debt” private sector-funded investment in order to cut the rising cost of debt services.
Other recommendations, according to the presidential aide, included the need to embark on mass housing schemes to create jobs financed through a Public Private Partnership arrangement.
It also stressed the urgent need to move away from “multiple exchange rates to a unified currency exchange rate,’’ and to do all that is necessary to continue to ease the environment of doing business in the country.
Shehu disclosed that the president accepted the immediate need to activate the proposal by the PEAC on the Public Policy Coordinating Office under the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Buhari assured members of PEAC that his administration would continue to listen to their useful suggestions and recommendations, saying “we will continue to listen to you and do our best”.
Other members of the PEAC are Dr Mohammed Sagagi – Vice-Chairman; Prof. Chukwuma Soludo; Prof. Ode Ojowu: Dr Shehu Yahaya; Dr Iyabo Masha; Mr Bismarck Rewane and Dr Mohammed Salisu – member/Secretary.
Edited By: Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)
CSOs advocate green recovery out of COVID-19 in Nigeria
A network of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has called for a “Green Recovery Deal” out of COVID– 19 in the country.
The CSOs made the call in a statement issued by Mr Pius Oko, the Project Officer, Climate and Sustainable Development Network(CSDevNet) in Abuja on Tuesday.
The network is made up of CSOs under the aegis of CSDevNet, the Nigeria Civil Society Framework on Paris Agreement and the SDGs (NCSFPAS) and the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).
“As the Economic Sustainable Committee (ESC) team, led by Vice-President, Yemi Osinbanjo prepares to launch unprecedented stimulus and recovery package, it is our belief that this historic moment calls for a different, an equally unprecedented response.
Oko said climate-smart agriculture must be scaled up as enshrined in Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) to the Paris Agreement.
Oko quoted Mr Barau Jawal, the Deputy Executive Director, Keep Bauchi Clean Initiative as saying “waste to wealth production should be part of the Federal Government’s COVID-19 Green Recovery and Economic Sustainability target, this is in energy production (bio-energy).”
Jamal encouraged the government and individuals to reduce or eliminate the release of pollutants into the environment by proper waste deposal and providing proper waste sites at every ward.
Mr Nwan Emeka, the Project Director, Connecting Peace Initiative, Rivers, said that government’s efforts should be channeled to tree planting and should be monitored for transparency.
“There should be enforcement of the law on recycling which will involve every citizen; ban single-use plastics and taking responsibility for setting up plants for recycling to curtail waste and city pollution,” Emeka said.
Mr Jacob Ibrahim, Dengula Farms and Agro-Processing Firm, Adamawa, said that the government should provide Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise(SME) policy, soft loans and grants to serve as an important repository response in coming out of the COVID-19 crisis.
“Essential products and services should be given special tags to ensure business continuity in this tumultuous time to guide law enforcement agencies and ensure manufacturing, supply or provision of essential goods or services,” Ibrahim said.
Also, Mrs Iyanu Oluwa, the Achievers Innovative Advocates International Foundation, Lagos, said the government should provide rapid response for sustainable food production by supporting farmers in the rural communities to plant food crops that would be subsistent for consumption.
“Government should support more youths and women as main drivers of rural economies and in its economic growth plan towards agriculture across the country with subsidies, mechanised equipment and grants,” Oluwa said.
Similarly, Dr Eris Ibi, the Executive Director, Working Fingers Int’l Initiative in Delta emphasised that post COVID-19 green recovery programmes should focus on poverty, health and unemployment.
Ibi said that grassroots organisations should be engaged to drive the process because during the lockdown NGOs, faith-based and community-based organisations were closest to the people and attended to them.
Mr Toyin Oshaniwa, the Founder, Toyin Oshaniwa Foundation, Lagos state said the ESC policy action should focus towards full mainstreaming of environmental education and environmental management plans that cover Water Sanitation and Hygiene.
Oshaniwa said that the environmental education and management plan should be enshrined into both public and private space as one of the essential road map to Green Recovery Solution.
“COVID-19 pandemic experience has demonstrated that we need nature as nature can recover fully with or without the help of man. Thus, green recovery solution should be nature based solutions,” Oshinawa said.
Mr Uche Uchenna, the Executive Director, Foundation for Family Values and Health Orientation and Empowerment, FCT, said government had to support SMEs to reduce poverty, through provision of Cash Transfer(capital), training of youths and women on vocational skills.
Uchenna added that there should be increase allocation to health for the training of medical personnel, acquiring of equipment and supporting rural health centers with increased sensitisation on COVID-19
Ms Vickie Onyekuru, the Programme Director, Child Health Organisation, Lagos, said recovery plans must ensure people’s wellbeing were at the heart of the crisis response and protection of workers’ rights, through a “just transition for all” that leaves no one behind.
Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Grace Yussuf (NAN)
COVID-19 meltdown: ESC’s report and making of `national plan’
COVID-19 meltdown: ESC’s report and making of `national plan’
On June 11, President Muhammadu Buhari received the report of the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and described the report as a `National Plan.’
Admittedly, the COVID-19 pandemic and its corollary economic relapse is plunging the global economy into recession in 2020.
More so, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), using the assessment of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) predicted that Nigeria’s economy would go into recession to a level of negative 3.4 per cent.
The terms of reference of the ESC included inter alia, to develop a clear Economic Sustainability Plan(ESP), identify fiscal and monetary measures to enhance oil and non-oil revenues in order to fund the plan; develop a stimulus package and come up with measures to create more jobs while keeping existing ones.
The ESC comprises the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and Minister of Labour and Employment.
Others are the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Group Managing Director of NNPC and Permanent Secretary in the Cabinet Office – Secretary.
ESC later co-opted some ministers whose duties were apropos to the mandate of the committee.
Presenting the committee’s report, that is the ESP, to President Buhari on June 11, Osinbajo said the ESC consulted and received memoranda from the Presidential Economic Advisory Council, the 36 state governors and the leadership of the National Assembly.
He said it also took into account existing government policies and strategies, namely the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), Report of the Economic Crisis Committee (headed by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning), the Finance Act 2019, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) proposals and the National Economic Council Report on the COVID-19 Crisis.
Osinbajo said that the ESC, in doing its work, was guided by the president’s directive to come up with a plan that would provide succour to Nigerians.
“Taking into account the dangers posed to the economy by the global economic slowdown, which also resulted in a drastic fall in crude oil production and prices, with serious implications for government revenues and foreign exchange earnings.
“ In addition, the inevitable mandatory lockdowns and social distancing measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 have had a severe negative impact on farms and factories, as well as on trade, transport and tourism.’’
Osinbajo said that several projections, including those done by the NBS on behalf of the ESC, showed a severe downturn in the nation’s oil earnings, as a result of which, even with oil price at 30 dollars a barrel, Nigeria would still have a shortfall of about N185 billion every month, in the amount available for allocation to the three tiers of government.
He also said that the projections indicated that unemployment might rise to 33.6 per cent or about 39.4 million people by the end of 2020, if prompt preemptive measures were not taken.
According to him, the forecast shows that millions more will fall into extreme poverty, before the pandemic ends, while GDP may fall to between minus 4.40 per cent and minus 8.91 per cent, depending on the length of the lockdown period and strength of our economic response.
The vice president said that the committee decided on a strategy hinged on the president’s mantra to “produce what we eat and consume what we produce.”
He said that to create millions of new jobs, Nigeria needed to focus on encouraging local production, local services, local innovation, and emphasise the use of local materials.
“Nigeria and Nigerians can produce our food, build our houses and construct our roads, using local materials in all cases.
“If we must import, it must be to support local production. We have therefore recommended that we must carry out mass programmes that create jobs and utilise local materials.
“Such will include: A Mass Agricultural Programme, which is expected to bring between 20,000 and 100,000 hectares of new farmland under cultivation in every state of the federation and create millions of direct and indirect job opportunities.
“Extensive Public Works and Road Construction Programme focusing on both major and rural roads and using locally available materials like limestone, cement and granite.
“ Mass Housing Programme to deliver up to 300,000 homes annually, engaging young professionals and artisans who form themselves into small and medium scale businesses, within the construction industry, using indigenous labour and materials.
“Installation of Solar Home System, targetting five million households, serving about 25 million individual Nigerians who are currently not connected to the National Grid.’’
He said that the committee recommended support for local production and manufacturing of all that is possible, including tech apps, software, shoes, garments, steel fabrication, ceramics and furniture, with the required capital and essential machinery.
The committee also recommended the provision of ample support for the informal sector through low interest loans and by easing procedures for registration, licensing, obtaining permits, among others.
“ By these means, urban and informal business people like mechanics, tailors, artisans, and petty traders, will be encouraged to improve and develop their services.
“ Support for MSMEs, especially in assisting to restructure their loans with banks; among others, this will assist businesses in the pharmaceutical, aviation, hotels and the hospitality industry, private schools, road transportation, technology companies, and the creative industry, among others.
“Facilitation of broadband connectivity across the country and creation of a wide variety of technology and ICT jobs.
“ Expansion of the Social Investment Programme, through an increase in the number of cash transfer beneficiaries, N- Power volunteers and sundry traders enjoying small and micro loans through the MarketMoni and TraderMoni schemes.
“The preexisting conditional cash transfer will also be extended to cover a larger number of the extremely poor.’’
The vice president said that the key to the success of the plan was undoubtedly ‘implementation’—executing the plan faithfully and working in collaboration.
He said that the ESC recommended that each minister would be responsible for supervising the implementation of plans situated in their respective ministries.
According to him, ministers will also be responsible for ensuring synergy between all relevant stakeholders across the public and private sectors.
“The ESC, which is inter-ministerial in nature, should only then remain to oversee plan implementation, ensure inter ministerial co-ordination, and report regularly to the president, while expenditure is monitored through the National Monitoring and Evaluation Framework and the Budget Office of the Federation,’’ he said.
Buhari lauded ESC for a job well done and praised Nigerians for their resilience and adapting to the realities of COVID 19.
The president expressed delight that the committee had consultations with relevant stakeholders, adding that the administration was committed to implementing its recommendations.
“I am pleased to hear that the ESC consulted with both the National Economic Council and the National Assembly, and I look forward to a continuing partnership with both organs, to implement what I consider a national plan.
“As we go forward, we must chart a new course and remain steadfast; I believe the priorities contained in this plan present a practical way of achieving our desire of a truly competitive economy that can support our people and secure our future.
“I congratulate the ESC for completing this critical national assignment in good time.
“I believe that with God’s help and in a sense of duty to prosperity we will successfully reset our economy for a brighter future,” Buhari said.
Perceptive analysts are upbeat that if the report of the ESP is prudently implemented, Nigeria’s economy will not only survive the COVID-19 downturn, but will remain sustainably afloat. (NANFeatures)
**If used, please credit the writer as well as News Agency of Nigeria
Post COVID-19 economy stimulus: Osinbajo’s committee confers with NASS
The Economic Sustainability Committee(ESC) led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday had an interaction with the leadership of the National Assembly on the draft Sustainability Plan, ahead of the submission of the plan to the President.
The virtual meeting, anchored from the Presidential Villa, was joined by the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and several other principal officers of the National Asembly.
Osinbajo praised members of the National Assembly, adding that the President had always commended the good working relationship between the executive arm of the Federal Government and the current National Assembly.
He added that it was very clear that COVID-19 had presented the country with an enormous economic challenge and also an opportunity.
Both the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives welcomed the plan and commended the President and the Vice President for calling the meeting to enable the legislative arm to review the plan and make comments.
Principal officers of the National Assembly, members of the ESC alongside members of the National Assembly attended the meeting.