FG to Develop Rapid Response Register for Poor Nigerians

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Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

The federal government is developing what it described as a rapid response register to enhance the enrolment of poor and vulnerable citizens in urban centres.

This, it said, will be actualised through the National Social Safety Nets Coordinating Office.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, made the disclosure at the Open Government Partnership 2020 Virtual Leaders Summit Roundtable, with the theme, “Open Recovery: Tracking the Trillions of Dollars in Stimulus and Safety Net Packages.”

According to her, poor and vulnerable Nigerians captured in the register would benefit from cash transfers to cushion the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A statement issued by her Special Adviser on Media and Communications, Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi, stated that the event was to advance discourse and innovation around open response and open recovery measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The data for the response register, she said, were being sourced through primary and secondary sources, including the Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS) and the National Communication Commission (NCC) database on mobile phone users.

To ensure transparency and to mitigate corruption risks, she said that payments would be made directly to the accounts of the individuals using their bank verification numbers.

On the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ahmed said government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhar has been proactive, people-oriented and aimed at averting drastic economic decline and protecting our most vulnerable citizens.

She added that the government amended the 2021-2023 Medium-Term Fiscal Framework (MTEF) and the 2020 Appropriation Act and introduced a fiscal stimulus package of N2.3 trillion (about US$5.9bn).

The government, she added, was also scaling up social safety nets, including cash transfers and school feeding programmes and was currently implementing a multisector economic sustainability plan.

Ahmed said: “To this end, in addition to existing OGP measures around budgeting, citizens engagement, open contracting, anti-corruption and others, we have introduced measures to sustainability enhanced fiscal prudence and transparency.

“This includes the establishment of a technology-enabled result-based performance management framework to track expenditures under the Economic Sustainability Plan.”

On the importance of targeted interventions, Ahmed stated that the COVID-19 pandemic had underscored the critical importance of targeted interventions that had built-in safeguards to ensure transparency, accountability, prevent corruption and ultimately strengthen the social contract between governments and citizens.