Cash crunch hits FG’s N500 billion Social Investment Scheme

Posted by Elizabeth Archibong, Abuja | 8 August 2017 | 1,661 times

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Inadequate funding in the 2017 financial year could mar the Federal Government’s Social Investment Scheme (SIP), as the government suffers from acute revenue shortage, findings show.

Out of the N500 billion budget for the SIPs for 2016, only N80 billion was released.

“Now we are asking for more because in the last three months, we have not received sufficient funds,” Maryam Uwais, Special Adviser to the President on the Social Protection Scheme, told BusinessDay.

Officials say this year, the four social investments programmes will receive N400 billion out of the N500 billion budgeted for in the 2017 appropriation, as N100 billion will be put into the Family Home Fund for low income earning Nigerians.

According to officials at the Aso Rock, government budgets around N40billion monthly on the social safety net programmes but it is likely to spend N27billion during the long school vacation.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration instituted the N500 billion Social Investment Programmes in 2015 to energise the economy, engage unemployed graduates and deal with issues of poverty in the country, affecting the poorest of the poor. The four programmes under the scheme include the Home Grown School Feeding (HGSFP), Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), Government Enterprises Entrepreneurship Programme (GEEP) and the N-Power job scheme.

“So for this year, N400 billion has been budgeted for the programme, while the remaining N100 billion has been put as seed money for the Nigeria Housing Fund. That is Nigeria’s contribution to the fund.

“We have asked for a minimum of N40 billion every month, though in a month like August, it will be N27 billion because the children will be on holidays then,” she said in an interview.

According to her, N100 billion which will be drawn from the SIP’s budget is a yearly contribution to a N1 trillion Social Housing Fund, the largest in the history of the country.

“Both the World Bank and AFDB are contributors to the fund from which developers will borrow 80 percent of cost of project and counter fund with their own 20 percent,’’ Acting President Yemi Osinbajo had said, while announcing the new initiative.

As a first option, Uwais said they were already considering scaling down the number of beneficiaries by 20 percent, to be able to fit into the budget. There are also plans to reach out to the private sector to adopt some of the programmes as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility programme.

The Buhari administration has rolled out two straight expanded budgets for 2016 and 2017 and has even proposed almost N8 trillion for 2018 spending. But funding has been a major issue, on account of low revenues, worsened by the instability in international oil prices.

The finance ministry claims government released up to N1.2 trillion capital of the N1.8 trillion budgeted in 2016.

In May this year, while giving an update on the programme, the Acting President’s spokesperson, Laolu Akande, said as at the end of April, the government had spent a total N41,714,793,293 across all the 36 states and FCT implementing different aspects of the four Social Investment Programmes.

About 200,000 unemployed graduates have been engaged under the N-Power Scheme, which pays N30,000. This scheme also funds the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), a tax amnesty scheme recently introduced by the Federal Government.

The ministry of finance and Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) approached the scheme, requesting for 7,500 NPower staff, citing the process of recruitment. The ministry trained them on tax and they are now being used for tax collections in the states.

There are currently 70,000 beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer with a target to move up to 200,000 by the end of this month.

So far 90,000 have received loans of between N10,000 and N100,000 under the GEEP scheme, while NPower has engaged 200,000 under the first batch.

Also 2.5million are said have applied for the second batch but Uwais says only 300,000 will be engaged in the end. (BusinessDay)

Source: News Express

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