By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the Federal Government’s COVID-19 stimulus package under the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) has been helpful.
Osinbajo’ spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Monday, said the vice president chaired a virtual meeting of the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) measuring implementation of the plan.
The vice president said that the COVID-19 stimulus package helped the Nigerian economy to avoid collapse as feared.
According to the vice president over two million jobs have been both created and saved with the implementation of ESP.
“Although the target of N2.3 trillion estimated to be spent under the plan has not been achieved just as yet, the Federal Government appropriation part of that total being N500 billion has been completely released by the end of May.
“This makes it possible to attain several objectives of the ESP directly supporting a few million Nigerians.
“While a total of 2,100,021 jobs have been saved and created altogether, the breakdown of the figures indicate that 1.3 million jobs have been retained through interventions in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) space, including the Payroll Support.
“ The 774,000 jobs from the Public Works Programme and 26,021 Jobs from construction /rehabilitation projects across the country were among those freshly created.
Osinbajo said that the 100 per cent release of funds appropriated in the budget for the programme was commendable.
He urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to expedite action on the release of funding components of the ESP.
“Our budget funds were released in total. I thank the Honorable Minister of Finance for ensuring that it was done promptly, which means, in effect, that as far as the budget goes, we have been able to do what we practically promised to do.
“I know that if we were able to infuse N2.3 trillion into the Nigerian economy, we will not have the employment figures that we have today, we will not have the problems that we have today, they will be significantly reduced.
“Even with what we are able to do with the budget, growth figures at least indicate that things have not degenerated as badly as many had thought.
“So, you can imagine what we could have done if we were able to fully implement what we thought we would be able to implement. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case,’’ he said.
He said that response would soon be received from CBN on more funds than expected to make some progress on the implementation.