World Bank approves $1.5bn COVID-19 recovery, stimulus for Nigeria

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The World Bank Group has approved a 1.5 billion dollars package to help build a resilient recovery post-COVID-19 in Nigeria.

This is according to a statement issued by the group on Tuesday in Washington D.C.

It added that the group also discussed a new five-year Country Partnership Framework (CPF) from 2021 to 2024.

It said that Nigeria was at a critical juncture and with the sharp fall in oil prices as a result of COVID-19, the economy was projected to contract by over 4 per cent in 2020.

This, it said, would plunge the country into its deepest recession since the 1980s.

“Government revenues could fall by more than 15 billion dollars this year and the crisis will push an additional five million Nigerians into poverty in 2020.

“The 1.5 billion dollars was approved for the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus – Programme for Results (Nigeria CARES) and the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Programme for Results (SFTAS) Additional Financing projects.

“The Nigeria CARES programme will help increase access to social transfers and basic services and provide grants to poor and vulnerable households.

“It will also strengthen food supply chains for poor households while facilitating recovery and enhancing capabilities of MSMEs,” it stated.

Meanwhile, for the SFTAS additional financing programme, it said that building on the progress made across 36 states, the original SFTAS programme would be expanded and scaled up in response to COVID-19.

“The additional financing will help meet the financing gap in the Programme Expenditure Framework, due to the sharp reduction in government revenues associated with the crisis.

“It will help increase the efficiency in spending, strengthen revenue mobilisation and enhance accountability and transparency in public resource management to further strengthen state-level COVID-19 response.

“Both projects are financed through an International Development Association (IDA) credit of 750 million dollars each,” the bank said.

The Bank said it was taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response.

“It is doing this by supporting public health interventions, working to ensure the flow of critical supplies and equipment and helping the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs.

“It is making available up to 160 billion dollars over a 15-month period ending June 2021, to help more than 100 countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses and bolster economic recovery.

“This includes 50 billion dollars of new IDA resources through grants and highly concessional loans and 12 billion dollars for developing countries to finance the purchase and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines,” it stated.

Speaking about CPF, Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, said that it would guide the bank’s engagement for the next five years in supporting Federal Government’s strategic priorities by taking a phased and adaptive approach.

“To realise its long-term potential, the country has to make tangible progress on key challenges and pursue some bold reforms.r

“Our engagement will focus on supporting Nigeria’s efforts to reduce poverty and promote sustained private sector-led growth,” he said.

According to the bank, the CPF will focus on four areas of engagement.

It would focus on investment in human capital by increasing access to basic education, quality water and sanitation services; improving primary healthcare and increasing the coverage and effectiveness of social assistance programs.

Additional investments in promoting women’s empowerment and youth employment and skills, especially for young women, would also help reduce maternal and child mortality.

Secondly, it would promote jobs and economic transformation and diversification by supporting measures to unlock private investment and job creation and increasing access to reliable and sustainable power for households and firms.

“The CPF will also focus on boosting digital infrastructure, and developing economic corridors and smart cities, to provide Nigerians with improved livelihoods.

“Enhancing resilience by strengthening service delivery and livelihood opportunities in the Northeast and other regions grappling with insecurity, as well as modernising agriculture and building climate resilience.”

The framework would also strengthen the foundations of the public sector by improving public financial management and strengthen the social contract between citizens and government through improved fiscal and debt management.

Kevin Njiraini, Director, International Finance Corporation (IFC) for Southern Africa and Nigeria, said that a strong private sector was critical to support Nigeria’s economic growth and development.

He added that the CPF leverages the Bank to enable business growth that was inclusive and sustainable.

“IFC will continue to support a broader private sector-led growth strategy to help Nigeria realise its immense potential by attracting more investment and creating millions of quality jobs for its growing population. ”

Merli Baroudi, Director, Economics and Sustainability, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), said that to achieve sustainable post-COVID economic recovery, the country needed to strengthen reforms that supported private sector solutions and crowd in private sector finance.

He assured that in close coordination with the World Bank and IFC, MIGA would continue to expand its support for cross-border private investment into Nigeria.

Prepared jointly with the IFC and MIGA, the CPF proposed a collaborative approach of how resources across the entire bank group could best support the government’s effort to achieve its goal to lift 100 million citizens out of poverty.

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