The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, announced on Wednesday that the World Bank has granted a one-year extension of the Nigeria Cares (NG-CARE) programme. The NG-CARES is an economic palliative programme set up to cushion the effects of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic on the fortunes of Micro Small and Medium Scale Enterprises.
Agba made this announcement at the Beni edition of the Ministerial Town Hall Meeting for beneficiaries of the scheme from Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, and Rivers States. He stated that the approval also included cash advancement to the 36 states of the federation since many of them would be getting new governors, and the cash crunch occasioned by COVID-19 would affect many of them.
The state minister noted that the pandemic brought a clot in the economic activities of the people and depleted resources by about 52 percent. He added that even though the pandemic was over as declared by the World Health Organization, the effects are still with us.
To mitigate against the effects, Agba said that the Federal Government came up with sustainable action plans to keep the people alive, adding that one of such plans was the shutting down of the economy to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
Agba further disclosed that the Federal Government gave N1 billion to each state during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the exception of Lagos, Kano, and the FCT, which got more due to being epicentres of the pandemic. The Federal Government also secured a $750 million World Bank loan to support the states in three basic areas.
The World Bank has now granted the request to extend the NG-CARES program for another year until June 2024. The approval includes an additional cash advancement to the 36 states to ease their financial burden during the transition of governors.
The NG-CARES program has been vital in keeping the livelihoods of poor and vulnerable Nigerians alive, maintaining food security, and facilitating the recovery of MSMEs. The beneficiaries of the scheme expressed their gratitude for the project’s assistance in recovering and building their businesses post-COVID-19.
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