The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, has called on financial managers in the country to be prudent, transparent and efficient in handling scarce resources occasioned by the Covid19 pandemic.
The Minister of State, Budget, and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba who represented her said this at the 3-Day 4th National Treasury Workshop organised by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation in Uyo yesterday.
According to her, financial managers should therefore be advised to devise better and more effective administrative plans that would enlighten subordinates on the reality of the paucity of funds in the country.
She revealed that the Federal Government had spent N2.3 trillion as a stimulus package to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The Minister noted that the workshop themed, “COVID-19 and the Global Economy: Implications on Nigeria’s National Treasury”, would examine policies and measures to enhance economic recovery under this Covid19 pandemic.
“In spite of the impact of COVID-19 and dwindling revenue from oil, our strategy was to expand government’s activities to cushion the effect of the pandemic with the total estimated stimulus package by the Federal Government of Nigeria of N2.3 trillion.
“These packages consisted, to a large extent, of a combination of fiscal and monetary policies, sectoral interventions, and social programmes.
“The fiscal and monetary policies supported to states, businesses, households, and individuals through grants, tax relief, payroll support, tariff reductions, and direct support to the health sector.
“The real sector interventions were focused on mass agriculture, mass housing, public works, off-grid solar power installations and support to small businesses,” she said.
According to her, these interventions created a large number of jobs, empowered farmers and entrepreneurs, conserved foreign exchange, and provided guaranteed takeoff of output, especially in agriculture and housing.
The minister added that in spite of the COVID-19 challenges, Nigeria is still the largest economy and most populous in Africa and that the federal government would continue to provide the enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the country.
In addition, she said the President Muhammadu Buhari led-administration was committed to attracting and supporting foreign direct investments and partnerships in Nigeria.
“The Government is creating an enabling macroeconomic environment by eliminating barriers and putting in place many incentives to attract investments.
Again, she noted that the theme of the workshop effectively captured the mood of the nation, giving the dwindling revenue of the country and the attendant challenges on the cash flow occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his remarks, the Akwa Ibom State governor explained that the government had set up a Post COVID-19 Economic Advisory Committee made up of professionals to advise the government on the way forward.
Represented by his deputy, Mr. Moses Ekpo, he said the government has started implementing some of the committee recommendations, such as the application of ICT and other tools of technology to stimulate entrepreneurial drives amongst the people.
“Today, even though we still have work to do, our youths have positive expressions in the use of their hands and creative abilities to create a sustainable living for themselves, using technology as a means of engagement.
“I am very hopeful that this workshop will also come up with ideas and approaches to stimulate and grow our economy in the new world thrust upon us by the COVID-19 pandemic,”, he said.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Accountant General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris, said that the workshop would provide financial shock-absorber to the government on how to manage any pandemic-induced financial challenges.
Idris added that the workshop would further enlighten financial managers in government on how to control aggregate cash flows within fiscal, monetary and legal limits that would improve the management of critical government borrowings and deploy same to infrastructure.