By Muideen Olaniyi
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, on Wednesday, said the country hopes to quickly exit recession and save her economy through rigorous implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).
Hajiya Ahmed said this while fielding questions from State House reporters after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The minister said the government had designed the ESP to help fast-track exit from the anticipated economic crisis having anticipated the current recession.
She said the plan is still very much on track and that the economy is expected to come out of recession in the first quarter of 2021.
“The steps that were taken were a vigorous implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan. You will recall that the ESP was designed to be a 12 months plan, to act as a bridge between the ERGP and its successor plan, but also it was designed specifically to help us quickly exit recession, which we had projected was going to happen.
“So, the ESP implementation is really on course, it’s focused and also the implementation of the 2020 Budget is really on course and is very focused. We have been able to release a large volume of capital funding into ministries, departments and agencies, enabling a lot of public works going on simultaneously all over the country.
“So, how we will maintain this is to make sure we continue to implement the ESP as it is planned. It will help us exit recession, it will help us reset back on the path of growth and on a road that is sustainable,”she said.
“We are not planning to retrieve the budget or to reverse the budget beyond the work of appropriation that the National Assembly is currently doing in consultation with us,” she said with respect to the recession.
She also dismissed concerns over payment of federal workers’ salaries. “There’s no issue with federal workers’ salary. We have paid salaries for November and we shall pay salaries for December so there’s no issue at all with federal workers’ salary.
“If you hear about any issue, it is for agencies whose budgets funding on the GIFMIS (Government Integrated Financial Management and Information System) system was exhausted and we are about to make an adjustment to them.”
She said there were provisions for emergencies in the 2020 budget. “So, when we have such a situation, what we simply do is remove funds from the service-wide vote to the agency so that they pay their budget, so there’s no problem of payment of salaries at all.”