As the nation battles the spike in poverty rate, the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) has disclosed that $1.6 trillion was needed to effectively tackle the scourge in Nigeria within a period of 10 years as it expressed optimism in the ability of the federal government to achieve poverty reduction within the specified time frame.
The council, which warned against borrowing for the fight against poverty, also raised the need for government to reduce its size in order to free funds to other productive areas.
The PEAC position was contained in a document, titled National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS) prepared to assist President Muhammadu Buhari achieve his aspiration to fight poverty in the country.
According to the document prepared in March this year, “Over the 10-year-programme period, (2021-2031), the total cost of the execution/implementation of the policies and programmes underpinning this strategy is estimated at US$1.6 trillion, giving an annual average of about US $161billion.
“This estimated cost covers the dual objective of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty as well as achieving all the country’s development objectives in line with the Sustainable Development Goals 2030,” the document stated.
The council, which also noted that as a middle-income country, around 50-60 per cent ($80bn-$97bn) financing needs is expected to be covered by government, said going by its recent budgetary resources, such financing needs are beyond what the government can shoulder alone.
“The challenge, however, is that in the recent past, specifically in 2020, the total consolidated national budgetary resources (federal and state governments) was only around US$54billion.
“The PEAC is thus conscious of the fact that in the current situation, public sector financial resources are inadequate to achieve the goals of poverty reduction and the SDGs. The capacity of the Nigerian government to increase investment and thereby spur post-COVID recovery and job creation is significantly impaired.
“Further debt accumulation is not an option as the government is already over-burdened with debt service obligations, it becomes imperative, therefore, to create a vehicle to facilitate enhanced private capital investment in the country.
“In light of this, it is proposed to set up a Nigerian Investment and Growth Fund, to be promoted by the government but resourced from local and international private sector as an independent corporate institution,” the document stated.
It warned that all these efforts will amount to nothing if the government doesn’t not reduce its size and cost.
According to the council, “In addition to the fund, a more immediate source of funding the programme will be the reduction in the size and cost of government that will free resources to priority expenditures in education, health and human development.”
Although it called for collaboration among government and other stakeholders including the three tiers of government, the private sector, the civil society, and development partners, NPRGS said such mutual ownership and the resulting collaboration in the design, resourcing, implementation and monitoring of the programme will ensure effectiveness, efficiency and dynamism in poverty reduction.
It called for the setting up of a national steering committee to be headed by the Vice-President to anchor the collaborative efforts. “A national steering committee chaired by the Vice-President, shall be the overarching body for anchoring collaborative efforts across federal ministries, extra-ministerial departments and agencies (MDAs), states and local governments, development partners, civil society organisations and the private sector actors,” it stated.
The document explained that the NSC shall provide oversight for the implementation of the NPRGS which is expected to ensure policy coherence and consistency, promote efficiency and more effective delivery of projects, programmes and interventions.
The document listed members of the NSC to include, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief of Staff to the President, six governors to represent the geopolitical zones and eight federal ministers.
In a foreword to the publication, President Buhari, said while he was making the promise to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years, nothing prepared the mind of government to COVID-19 which ravaged the world economy.
The President expressed the determination of his administration to weather the storm, saying there is hope for Nigeria in spite of the challenges.