With respect to social safety nets, the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN), through the national social safety nets cordinating office (NASCO), is developing rapid response register (RRR) to quickly scale up the enrolement of poor and vulnerable citizens mainly in the Nigerian urban areas.
Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, said, in her remark at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) 2020 Virtual Leaders Summit Roundtable on ‘Open Recovery: Tracking the trillions of dollars in stimulus and safety net packages’ held recently, that the poor and the vulnerable Nigerians are to potentially benefit from cash transfers to cushion the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
The event was to advance discourse and innovation around open response and open recovery measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic – an unprecendented global threat which has resulted in in far-reaching economic and health consequences.
According to her, data for the register are 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 (BVN).
Speaking on the government response to the COVID-19 pandemic under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Honourable Minister said: “Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic under the leadership of Mr. President has been proactive, people-oriented and aimed at averting drastic economic decline and protecting our muost vulnerable citizens.
On work done on 2021-2023 Medium-Term Fiscal Framework and the Appropriation Act, she said, “We amended the 2021-2023 Medium-Term Fiscal Framework and the 2020 Appropriation Act, introduced a fiscal stimulus package of N2.3 trillion ( about US$5.9 billion), are scaling up social safety nets (including cash transfers and school feeding programmes), and are currently implementing a multisector economic sustainability plan.”
A key priority has, according to her, been to deploying funds transparently and in a targeted and efficent manner that maximises the impact, in keeping with the government’s comitment under OGP national action plan. “This is especially important given our limited fiscal space and low domestic revenues.
“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, including the following: The establishment of a technology-enabled result-based performance management framework to track expenditures under the ESP, including the fiscal stimulus package and other governmet interventions; the reintegration of cash management function into the national core budgeting system to ensure that in year budget monitoring and evaluation (M&E) results inform fund releases on a real time basis, and that future budget projections are also guided by evidence of funds utilisation. This will ensure conversion of liquidity into the achievements of outputs and outcomes; and the use of a tax expenditure statement as a key reporting tool on the Nigerian tax system, providing estimated cost of the main tax expenditures in a year in terms of revenue forgone.”
On the importance of targeted interventions, Ahmed also said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the critical importance of targeted interventions that have built in safegurds to ensure transparency, accountability, prevent corruption and ultimately strenghten the social contract between governments and citizens. We in Nigeria join OGP and other member countries in promoting a global response that is underpinned by the principle of accountability, transparency and inclusiveness, which ensures citizen-centred and sustainable recovery.