The Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu, has urged Nigerian states to promptly access the remaining $329.52 million from the Federal Government Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (NG-CARES) program.

Federal Government (FG)
Federal Government (FG)

This call comes as he inaugurated a Federal Cares Steering Committee (FCSC) for the program in Abuja on Tuesday.

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The NG-CARES program, supported by a $750 million World Bank loan, is designed to alleviate the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable populations and stimulate local economies.

Despite the availability of the fund, a significant portion remains unutilized. As of December 31, 2023, only $420.48 million, representing 56% of the total funds, has been accessed by states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Bagudu emphasized the need to accelerate the disbursement of the funds, especially considering their concessionary loan nature with less than a 2% interest rate.

The NG-CARES program aims to support various areas, including social transfers and livelihood support, agricultural development, and SME assistance, allowing states to tailor interventions to their specific needs.

A total of N210.29 billion ($420.48 million) under the NG-CARES program has been released to 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), with Imo state being the only state that has not met the criteria to receive the funds.

The NG-CARES program targets the sustenance of livelihoods, food security, and the revival of small and medium-sized businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The deadline for the program was extended to June 30, 2024, to encourage faster fund utilization.

This development presents an opportunity for Nigerian states to expedite their economic recovery efforts by leveraging the NG CARES program to mitigate the lingering effects of the pandemic on vulnerable communities and sectors.

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