The World Bank says it has disbursed the sum of N35.3 billion to all the 36 states of the federation and the FCT as advance payment for the implementation of the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus Programme (NG-CARES).
The Lead Specialist, World Bank Country office, Abuja, Prof. Foluso Okunmadewa, disclosed this at the 1st Implementation Support Mission for NG-CARES on Tuesday in Ikeja.
He said that the programme was organised for the World Bank, the Federal Government and State delegates who would be participating in the implementation of the programme in Lagos state.
Okunmadewa, also the Task Team Leader, NG-CARES, World Bank, Abuja, said that all the 36 states were running the programme and had become effective in every state.
He added that the World Bank’s teams were in Lagos, Enugu, Yola, Birnin-Kebbi, adding that all the 36 states are participating in the implementation mission this week.
He added that the team had started going round all the 36 states for this particular mission to help them as they start the implementation process.
The NG-CARES is a 750 million dollars’ intervention programme that started running in 2021 and would end in 2023.
It is a collaboration between the World Bank, the Federal Government and the 36 state governments.
According to him, the total allocation to each state of the federation is the equivalent of 20 million dollars but it is a result-based financing, so the money is not given to the state upfront.
“But because most states do not have enough resources to start the intervention, advance money was given to the states.
“Advance were given to the states at different amount ranging from 500 million to 1.3 billion in some cases.
“A total of N35.3 billion has been disbursed as at yesterday (Mobday) to all the 36 states of the federation and the FCT as advance.
“It is hope that by the next six six months when the World Bank must have verified the results from the states, the second disbursement will take place and the advance will be recovered.
“Lagos state is among the best, It got N900 million,” he said.
Okunmadewa said that NG-CARES was set up to alleviate the impacts of COVID-19 on livelihood, welfare, food supply system, the informal sector and local economy.
He noted that due to the pandemic, many people became poor while others became poorer.
“Its true that when COVID-19 pandemic was rampant, people recognised its immediate impact on their lives and also recognised that it was affecting livelihood.
“Even now that the effects on lives, sickness and all other things may have subsided, the impacts it had have on livelihood, on the level of welfare of people, on food and supply system, impact on informal sector, local economy,are still there.
“Those impacts need to be alleviated in a way.
“People who were poor before COVID-19 became poorer, people who were not poor before the pandemic became poor. Now there is no doubt that they needed to be supported,” he noted.
The team leader said that the World bank had adopted a performance-based-financing approach that would ensure that the support gets to the average Nigerians who are really in need of the intervention.
He noted that unless and until the government itself works with the people that really need this assistance and provides them the assistance upfront; the outcome and the output are verified, the refinancing from the World bank would not come.
“The finances follow the results, it does not follow the activities, it does not follow training and capacity building.
“It actually follows the number of farmers that have been assisted, the number of poor household that have been given social transfers, the number of local enterprises, micro and small scales that have been facilitated and recovered.
“Based on that, the government is now giving the resources, it is result-based financing and on that bases, the monitoring is implicit and I must say that all the 36 state governments of Nigeria, including the FCT have bouught into this approach.
He said that it was left for the states to actually decide the beneficiaries of the intervention, adding that it is not decided by the World Bank or any federal institutions.
“Each state looks at the poor amongst their people, the people who actually need the assistance and they are the one they give it to.
“There is no way to circumvent it more so that independent verification agents are then going to go out, third party monitoring are going to talk to the beneficiaries who received it.
“The state government knows that if they give it out to those that do not need it, and verification and monitoring agents say so, the state will not receive the resources for it,” he said.
In a keynote address, the Lagos State Commissioner for Budget and Physical Planning, Mr Sam Egube, said that the state was participating in all interventions that suit it and that would alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its citizenry.
He noted that the total budget is about 20 million dollars per state and the FCT and a total of 750 million dollars nationwide.
He said the introduction of the NG-CARES by the Federal Government and an initiative that had been supported by the World Bank to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 pandemic was a welcome development.
He added that the state government had put in place necessary machinery that would ensure smooth implementation of the intervention in accordance with the dictate of the operational manual.
“As a demonstration of our commitment, Mr governor has approved the deployment of existing platforms and MDAs with good track records to deliver on the programmes’ result areas and the disbursement link indicators.
“They are: the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, the Ministry of Wealth Creation, Office of the Sustainable Development Goals and they are to handle cash transfer, basic services and livelihood supports.
“ FADAMA project in the Ministry of Agriculture will work on food security and safe functioning of food supply chain while the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund will be facilitating, recovering and enhancing the capabilities of MSMEs.
Egube said that the Lagos State Government had received N900 million as advance payment for the implementation of NG-CARES as at March 7.
“Lagos will be intervening in agricultural programme, training people in farming skills and in the management of farm business, cash transfers that will be happening and several interventions that are humanitarian in nature that will be happening.”
Also, the State Commissioner for Finance, Dr Rabiu Olowo, said that Lagos was ready for the implementation of the NG-CARES.
Olowo noted that the implementation of the project was solely the responsibility of the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning.
He added that the Ministry of Finance would facilitate the disbursements of funds for the smooth implementation of the project.