FG Inaugurates Aid Working Group to Plug Funding Gap

By Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

The Budget and National Planning Minister, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, has inaugurated the Technical Working Group for the Nigeria Aid Transition Plan (TWG-NATIP), with a mandate to develop a comprehensive strategy for addressing the funding gap that may arise with the scaling down of development partner funding to Nigeria.

The minister, according to a statement by his Media Adviser, Mr. Akpandem James, said the initiative was in line with the resolve of the current administration to drive effective planning as the bedrock of its developmental strategy and be pro-active in the face of emerging challenges.

He drew attention to the fact that the country’s relationship with international development partners is evolving because of the graduation of Nigeria to a middle-income country, with the implication of the country being at risk of losing access to some concessionary funding windows.

“The funding gap created by the withdrawal of donor funding to critical programmes of government would therefore require additional government expenditure to cover the shortfall. In view of the potential fiscal and other implications of these changes, including larger debt burden to ensure sustainable development in Nigeria, it is important for us to seek an orderly aid transition,” he explained.

While appreciating the significant amounts development partners have been contributing every year to the growth and development of the Nigerian economy, the minister said Nigeria has to be proactive and plan for how to cover the funding gap that might result following the evolving development.

He commended the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the government involved for the work already being carried out to ensure effective management of development assistant programmes in Nigeria, and charged the TWG to consolidate on the efforts and develop a comprehensive strategy for addressing the challenge of aid scaling down in Nigeria.

Among others, the strategy must recognise efforts already being made by MDAs as well as carry out critical review where there is none; including reviewing all development partners’ funding arrangements and recommending a credible and realistic path towards ensuring a smooth graduation from those under transition, the minister added.

He stated that the strategy would serve a dual purpose with the inclusion of a credible decision framework for mainstreaming affected programmes into the budget, adding that “it would also serve as a medium to make a case for delay in aid transition where feasible.”

The TWG-NATP, which is chaired by the Director General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, will report to the minister and be responsible for the various tasks related to the development of the transition plan.

The mandates include “documenting an overview of the development partner network in Nigeria; identifying all development partner-assisted programmes with focus on key sectors such as education, health, social development and agriculture

“Also, prepare an analysis of the potential impact of the withdrawal of critical development partner funding on socioeconomic outcomes and fiscal indicators.

“Make a case for delayed transition from development partner programmes utilising the analysis in (b) and other compelling information; and prepare an Aid Transition Plan for Nigeria.”

Members of the TWG are drawn from the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Agriculture, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and Debt Management Office (DMO).

The minister stressed that to accomplish the objectives of NATP, each member must act as a representative of their respective MDA and participate in the relevant activities designed to achieve the objectives of the plan.

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