FG to Transform Nation’s Infrastructure, Housing Sector, Targets N20trn Pension, Insurance Funds

.To provide 48-hour visa service for investors

Deji Elumoye in Abuja 

The Federal Executive Council has approved an initiative aimed at transforming the nation’s infrastructure and housing sector.

The initiative, as approved by the council, is tailored to meet the urgent demand for critical infrastructure and affordable homeownership, fostering job creation, inclusive growth, and long-term productivity enhancement.

The council gave its nod to the initiative at its meeting at the State House in Abuja on Tuesday.

The initiative will unlock private-sector funds, which Nigerians can access for 25-year mortgages at low interest rates to realize their dream of owning a home. 

The federal government has also outlined plans to tap from locally available funds such as pension and life insurance to develop infrastructure in the country. 

Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Wale Edun, disclosed this while briefing newsmen at the end of the two-day meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Bola Tinubu saying that there are over N20 trillion of such funds available in the country. 

According to him, the fund will go into infrastructure such as housing and providing long term mortgages. 

He explained: “Nigeria is resilient, Nigerians are resilient. And the fact is that even before we start looking to foreign investors, we start looking to foreign funding, there is available in Nigeria, long term funds to fund infrastructure projects, and it’s within the pension, the life insurance and investment fund industry generally. 

“There is upwards of N20 trillion available, and much of it is in short term funding that doesn’t need to be. Pension money is long term. 

“People save over their lifetime for their pension. And so in conversation, in consultation, collaboration and cooperation with the private sector, we are now able to announce and with the full knowledge and support of all parties, that there will be an initiative to fund growth through investment in infrastructure, including housing, provision of mortgages, long term mortgages, 25 year mortgages at relatively low interest rates. 

“Initially, of course, the government will stand back and provide some support, particularly in this era of high interest rates but eventually as interest rates come down, there should be less role for the government through providing, for example, guarantees and so forth. 

“So, we can look forward to these huge funds being leveraged with the expertise, the ability, the capacity of the private sector, partnering with government to drive economic growth.

“On the supply side, construction of houses will be funded. On the demand side mortgages will be made available so that those constructing houses have an outlet and Nigerians who are saving so much by way of pension funds, have the added bonus of access to affordable mortgages.

“That really is the long and short of this initiative and you also as much as anybody else can understand and see what it means in the construction industry to do for the country. 

“That is the plan, that is the target that is the hope. And in this particular case, you have the best and the brightest that Nigeria has to offer, putting their minds together and committing to achieve in the goals.”

Edun spoke against the backdrop of what’s he said in the context of the President Bola Tinubu macroeconomic reforms, “which are necessary and could not  be delayed a moment longer.”

The Minister noted that the reforms are still and are beginning to yield the desired results. 

Edun added: “They were already delayed. Those reforms which are still in process, and which are beginning to give benefits in various areas, particularly in terms of trying to stabilize the economy, the exchange rate, bring inflation down, and eventually get interest rates down. 

“But on the other hand, Mr. President has been consistent and he has also been commended, I must say, both around the world for for the fact that he is committed to intervening on behalf of the poor and the vulnerable in order to ease the pains of this necessary reform. But at the same time, given where we are in terms of stabilization, it is time to focus on economic growth. 

“And one of the key drivers of economic growth is investment in infrastructure, in housing, power, rail, roads, water transport, even technology. These these are key drivers of economic growth. They increase product. When you invest in them, you get increased productivity, you get economic growth, and you get job creation, which reduces poverty, and that is the strategy. 

“So, it’s two pronged and we’re not pivoting towards this all important growth and you say where were the resources come from?”

Also on Tuesday, the Federal Government  announced plans to streamline its visa regime so that applicants who want to invest in Nigeria can obtain it within 48 hours. 

Minister of information and national orientation, Mohammed Idris, who disclosed this at the post-FEC media briefing said it was part of the decisions reached at the end of the two-day Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja on Tuesday. 

He said that the review was necessary to foster ease of doing business on Nigerian soil.

According to him, a tripartite committee has been setup work towards the actualization of the initiative. 

His words: “Now, the Federal Executive Council has noted that our visa processes are becoming cumbersome and this is not encouraging investors to come in easily because, as the President has indicated, the ease of doing business is also tied to the ease of visa application.

“Therefore, the FEC has set up a committee to look at our visa processes to reduce the cumbersome nature of these visa processes, meaning that those investors or tourists who want to come into Nigeria will find it a lot easier to go into this country provided they follow all the laid down processes.

“This includes the e-visa platform, which has already been discussed. The Federal Government is also mulling the idea of every visa application being processed within the next 48 hours.”

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