..Releases N25bn for Social Intervention Programme

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  • Capital expenditure records 50% implementation

Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

After several months of touting its social intervention programme, the federal government finally announced wednesday that it had released N25 billion, translating to five per cent of the N500 billion earmarked for the programme in the 2016 budget.

The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this in Abuja while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

She also revealed that an additional N40 billion was in the process of being released.

The minister further stated that so far government had achieved 50 per cent implementation of the 2016 capital budget.

She said: “We have approval from the steering committee in the sum of N150 billion.

“So far, N25 billion has been released into the account and there is another N40 billion that is in the process of being released.”

The minister explained that government would roll out the first four programmes and they would continue into 2017.

She said her ministry presented a memo to council for notation and implementation on the progress of the national roll out of the social investment programme, adding that the programme is in four parts.

First is the homegrown school feeding programme that targets 5.5 million primary school pupils in all the states of the federation from Primaries 1 to 3.

The federal government will be responsible for Primaries 1 to 3, while the states take charge of Primaries 4-6.

Ahmed said as of today, 11 states were fully ready to start with the first phase, under which 3.5 million school children would be fed.

She said the second aspect of the programme would be on job creation, aimed at preparing 500,000 university graduates who would be equipped with devices containing information to train them as teachers, agriculture workers and health support workers.

According to her, they will be deployed to work in their local communities and will receive a monthly stipend of N30,000 for a period of two years.

The third is the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) initiative where one million care givers will be given N5,000 monthly for a period of two years.

“Focus has been given to the extremely poor and vulnerable in our society and special emphasis is being place on providing as much as possible to north-eastern part of the country where there are a lot of internally displaced persons,” she explained.

The fourth is the Enterprise Promotion Programme, which is essentially the loan scheme that will be handled by the Bank of Industry (BoI). One million, six hundred thousand people including market women, traders, artisans, small businesses, and youths will be given loans ranging from N10,000 to N100,000 with a repayment period of three to six months and administrative cost of five per cent.

She clarified that no payments had been made to anyone yet. However cooks had been selected for the school feeding programme and commercial banks are on standby to drive the programme.

“There is no spending yet on the National Social Investment Programme, we are just kicking off. Funds will be released to the Bank of Industry this week for the Enterprise Promotion Programme.

“For the school feeding programme, it is only after the cooks have performed that they will get their first payment,” she said.

The federal government has already budgeted N500 billion in the 2017 spending plan for the continuation of the programme.

Ahmed also disclosed that so far, government had achieved 50 per cent implementation of the 2016 capital budget.

She said the budget’s implementation in terms of personnel cost was fully up to date, while operational expenditure had been disbursed for eight months. The ninth month is just being processed, she added.

“Capital expenditure has been disbursed to the tune of nearly 50 per cent. About N720 billion has been released from the MDAs N1.5 trillion as of the end of September,” she said.

The 2016 budget, which was signed by the president in May this year, is expected to end in December while the 2017 budget takes off in January.

Ahmed said the 2017 budget preparation had reached an advanced stage and is being reviewed by the Economic Management Team (EMT).

She said the document would soon be submitted to the FEC for approval and later to the National Assembly.