The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. Zainab Ahmed, has called on staekolders to join forces to revamp the economy from prevailing stains, particularly as posed by COVID-19 pandenmic.
Dr Ahmed said this at the opening ceremony of the National Council on Finance and Economic Development (NACOFED) 2021 Conference hosted by the Lagos State Government.
She stated that the Federal Government would sustain a strong relationship with other levels of government, stressing that the interventions recently initiated by the Federal Government to assist States include the approval of the bridging facility grant of N656.1 Billion over a period of six months to cushion the effects of the resumption in the payment of the three Federal Government Bailout facilities, excess facility and budget support facility).
The Minister said that the Federal Government have recently cut down the interest rate on intervention facilities from nine per cent to five per cent per annum for the smooth running of the intervention process, adding that efforts on revenue reforms are aimed at strengthening public finance management in the country.
Dr Zainab noted that the Federal Government wants to reset opportunities for growing and consolidating the recovery efforts, through other financing options of States in the form of concessionary loans to support the development of vital sectors of the economy such as health, and agriculture while complementing the States in fighting the pandemic, creating jobs and alleviating poverty.
Since the last couple of years presented series of challenges to the Country and the entire globe, Ahmed informed that the decline in revenue growth and recovery was largely due to the fall in crude oil prices as a result of decreased global demand and the containment measures to fight the spread of COVID-19, which affected virtually every sector of the economy.
“The combined effect of these policies would assist in addressing the current security and other socio-economic challenges confronting the nation”, Zainab said.
The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu said that the theme of the Y2021 NACOFED Conference, tagged “Public Sector Finance Management in the New Normal (Post COVID-19)”, reflects the experience of confronting strains from a global health pandemic that has forced a rethink of everything, including the management of public finances.
He said that there is a need for the Public sector budgets to be reconsidered and re-ordered, because new priorities and concerns have shown up, especially in the area of health spending.
The Governor noted that the conference will provide an opportunity for the Federal and State Governments to share thoughts, exchange views and forge a common front in addressing some of the fiscal and socio-economic challenges foisted by the pandemic.
In his welcoming address, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Aliyu Ahmed, commended the consistency of the Lagos State Government in developing efforts towards improving national causes, while adding that the deliberations at the forum would centre on brainstorming on national economic matters towards policymaking.
He was impressed that the theme for the event was carefully selected to proffer possible solutions that would address strains posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, through harnessing opportunities and tackling challenges.
In his goodwill message, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, representing Lagos West Senatorial District, Senator Solomon Olamilekan, said it was instructive to consider how the pandemic has affected financial management in the Country and to develop strategies to address same for effective service delivery.
The Honourable Chairman, Committee on Finance, House of Representatives, Mr. Kabiru Idris, said the House is committed to kickstarting all processes to effect resolutions reached by the Council.
Chairman, Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Engr. Elias Mbam, represented by the Secretary of the Commission, Muhammed Bello Shehu, said the forum is timely with the national development plan, noting that the implementation would unleash proper economic diversification.
The event had in attendance key finance stakeholders including, Permanent Secretaries, Accountant-Generals, Commissioners of Finance of the various States, Heads of Federal and State Agencies, Legislators and key economic drivers of the private sectors, among others.