The Minister for Budget and Economic Planning (BEP) Senator Abubakar Bagudu has officially inaugurated the Federal Cares Steering Committee under the NG Cares Programme.
During the inauguration, the Minister highlighted the potential of undisbursed loans from the World Bank as a major source of cheap funding for the Country’s budget of 2024.
He revealed that  there should be accelerated disbursement of about $8 billion loan  remaining from the World Bank loan. He further stated that the fund can serve as a valuable source of financing for both the Federal and State governments.
He informed that one of the remarkable features of the NG Cares Programme is the flexibility, allowing states to allocate the funds to various sectors such as agriculture, women affairs, water resources, environment, and training which according to him, will ensure that the loans cater for the specific needs of each state.
In his words: “It is important to note that these loans come from the International Development Association, carrying an interest rate of about 1%. However, the Federal government is nearing the limit of borrowings under these low-cost loans. Therefore, swift disbursement and timely debt repayment are crucial to maintain access to these affordable funding sources in the future.”
This Minister maintained that the inauguration of the Federal Cares Steering Committee under the NG Cares Programme marks a significant step towards bolstering Nigeria’s budget and promoting economic growth.
He listed members of the Committee to include the following Ministers: Budget and Economic Planning, Agriculture and Food Security, Industry Trade and Investment, Women Affairs, Environment and Ecological Management, Education, Labour and Employment.
Others are Permanent Secretaries of Budget and Economic Planning, Finance, Water Resources and Sanitation, Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty representing the Honourable Minister, Executive Director Nigerian Governors Forum, Director Economic Growth (BEP) and both Chairman and secretary of the Federal Cares Steering Committee
The World Bank Country Director of NG cares, Dr. Lire-Erlsado said that the World Bank initiative is excelling and succeeding in Nigeria because of the quality leaders administering the NG cares programme.
He added that the initiative also aligns with the Renewed Hope Agenda of the present administration to expand access to livelihood support, food security services,  grants for poor and vulnerable households in the Country.
He mentioned that the NG cares, though a World Bank project, gave access to States to own the project and individually tailor the initiative to meet the needs of their respective States.
The National Coordinator of NG Cares, Dr Abdulkaereeem Obaje said that although the programme is coming to a close in June 2024, a sustainable structure has however been put in place to ensure that the programme outlives the set deadline.
The Federal Cares Steering Committee, according to him, will assist in providing Policy guidelines and an effective implementation plan for the program.
In  attendance were the following Ministers; Women Affairs and Social Development, Hon. Uju Kennedy Ohaneye, Environment Mallam Balarabe Abbas Lawal, Agricultural and Food security Senator Abubakar Kyari, Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof. Joseph Utsev among other dignitaries.
Folasade Boriowo