•Call for single unified market-determined exchange rate
Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Governors of the 36 states of the federation have called on the federal government to allow them to oversee the distribution of palliatives to cushion the effects of COVID-19.
The palliatives being distributed to the vulnerable are currently being handled by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The governors spoke yesterday in Abuja after a meeting with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha.
They also supported the unification of exchange rates into a single, market-determined window and the use of the market-determined exchange rate to calculate all revenues due to the federation.
The governors outlined their position in a communique signed by the NGF Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
Fayemi also briefed his colleagues on ongoing coordination with the World Bank to mobilise support for states to mitigate the economic and social cost of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said ongoing plans included accelerated disbursement of existing and new financing for states under the State Fiscal, Transparency, Accountability, and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme-for-Results, and mitigation and recovery support for expenditures to protect livelihoods, support local economic activity and recovery over the next 18 months to two years.
“The forum expressed appreciation to the private sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for their pledge to support states to increase their capacity to mitigate the spread of the virus and care for confirmed cases through the construction of isolation centres and the distribution of personal protective equipment to states.
“Members underscored the need for CACOVID to work directly with the states in the distribution of palliatives,” Fayemi said.
He added that following a briefing from SGF on the activities of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, NGF commended Mustapha and his team for the commitment to leading a national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the governors also “emphasised the necessity for stronger collaboration with states because they are best positioned to administer palliatives to mitigate the impact of the crisis, including the distribution of food and essential materials to households to help them cope with the expected loss of income and livelihoods.”
Fayemi also said the NGF received a presentation from the Chief Operating Officer, MTN Nigeria, Mr. Mazen Mroue, and the Chief Transformation Officer, Mr. Olubayo Adekanmbi, on an ongoing collaboration with the NGF Secretariat to profile states’ vulnerability to the spread of the COVID-19 based on parameters such as population, age, and density, travel history, location, income level, among others.
“Governors approved the vulnerability model and resolved to use the model to drive a data-driven approach to stopping the spread of the virus in the country,” he added.
He explained that the governors also expressed support for the federal government’s implementation of petrol price modulation mechanism to eliminate the petrol subsidy permanently.
Fayemi said: “Governors unanimously supported the unification of exchange rates into a single, market-determined window and the use of the market-determined exchange rate to calculate all revenues due to the federation.
“Finally, governors reiterated the importance of cancelling all deductions and deferring or restructuring all commercial debt service payments on federal government and CBN-owned debts.”