According to reports, the Federal Government has directed the immediate release of N65bn for the take- off of its National Social Investment Programme.
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, announced this while addressing State House correspondents on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
She stated that the N65bn was part of the N150bn approved by the steering committee of the programme.
N500bn is earmarked by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration in the 2016 appropriation bill for the implementation of the social investment programme.
The minister, however, announced that already N25bn of the N65bn had been released into the account of the programme while the remaining N40bn would soon be credited into the account.
She said, “On the social investment Programme, what we are doing today is to tell Nigerians that the programme is starting.
“We have approval from the steering committee in sum of N150bn.
“So far N25 billion has been released into the account and there is another N40bn that is in the process of being released into the account.
“Remember we said implementation would be done in stages as the states are ready for each of the programme they are added into each of the scheme.
“The School Feeding Programme has started in some states like Kaduna and Osun. The Federal Government is only adding its resources to it.
“The Federal Government will handle from primary 1 to 3 while the states will handle from 4 to 6.
“The ministry presented a memo to council for notation and implementation on the progress of national roll out of the social investment programme.
The minister said the programme was in four parts.
He said that the first is the homegrown school feeding Programme which is targeting 5.5 million primary school people in all the states of the federation from primary 1-3.
She disclosed that 11 states were set to fully start the scheme which would involve feeding 3.5 million school children.
The second is a job creation programme aimed at training 500,000 university graduates, who would be deployed to work in their local communities as teachers, agriculture workers and health support workers.
Ahmed said the graduands would be receiving a monthly stipend of N30,000 monthly for a period of two years.
The minister said the third scheme was the Conditional Cash Transfer, where one million care givers would be given N5,000 monthly for a period of two years.
He said, “Focus has been given to the extremely poor and vulnerable in our society and special emphasis is being placed to providing as many as possible in the North Eastern part of the country where a lot of Internally Displaced Persons.’’
According to the minister, the fourth is the Enterprise Promotion Programme, which is essentially the loan scheme which will be handled by the Bank of Industry.
She said that 1.66 million people, made up of market women, traders, artisans, small businesses, youths would be given loan from N10,000 to N100,000.
She said the repayment period of the loans would be three to six months with administration cost of five per cent.
On the request for National Asssembly’s approval to obtain 29 billion dollars loans by the government, the minister said the amount would be used to fund the 2016 budget deficit.
“On the borrowing plan that President has sent to the National Assembly for 2016, indeed included in the borrowing plan is the amount that is required for both local and foreign borrowing to fund the 2016 budget deficit.
“The budget implementation itself is on course; the 2016 budget is fully performed to date in terms of personnel, that is to say we are not owing any salaries at the federal level.
“Operational expenditure has been disbursed for eight months and the ninth month is just being processed.
“Capital expenditure has disbursed to the tune of nearly 50 per cent.
“About N720 billion has been released from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies’ N1.5 billion as at the end of September.’’
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, who also spoke to the correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, said the council approved 215 megawatt Kaduna power plant.
“The memo sought procurement and implementation defects and lack of budget support for the project which was started in 2009 and should have been completed in 2012.’’
According to him, his ministry is now in the position to complete the project by 2017.
He expressed the hope that the project, when completed, would add 215 megawatts of power to the national grid.
He said the additional power would be dedicated to Kudandan Industrial Complex in Kaduna.
Fashola also said the council approved the construction of sub-station to evacuate 40 megawatts of power from the Gurara hydro electric power plant phase one to connect into Kaduna and to enable itto interconnect to Mando transmission substation.
He said this would strengthen the transmission grid in the affected areas.
“What these two approvals will do is to complete ongoing projects which is a commitment of this administration; create work because contractors will return to site and also increase our power by 215 megawatts from Kaduna.
“We will get 40 megawatts extra into the grid from gurara phase 1, and we are also expanding the transmission across the country.’