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COVID-19: Govs pleads for debt rescheduling with FG to avert economic crisis

Buhari orders prompt payment of salaries

Nigerian Governors have called for the rescheduling of the debts they owe the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as part of measures to safeguard the liquidity of their States as the crisis arising from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic festers.

The State chief executives after their meeting in Abuja under the banner of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), called “for urgent fiscal measures to safeguard the liquidity of State governments.”

They said that the Federal Government and the CBN should suspend all deductions from the States’ Federation Account Allocation until further notice.

Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, in a communique at the end of the meeting, said the decision to call for the debt restructuring and debt servicing was reached following a briefing by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning on fiscal measures taken by the federal government to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He also disclosed that the Governors discussed the legality of the Federal Government’s lockdown in states around the country, but “resolved to maintain the status quo until the Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State resolves the matter with the Presidential Committee on Covid-19.”

Fayemi also said that the agreed on cross border distribution of essential food items during the lockdown, and to ensure that “perishables produced in one State get to States that need them unhindered.”

He expressed the commitment of the Governors through State focal persons in charge of social protection, to ensure that palliatives including food and cash transfers reach the most vulnerable population in all the States.

The State chief executives have been meeting through teleconferencing since the upsurge in coronavirus pandemic in the country.

This is just as President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday directed the Federal Ministry of Finance and National Planning to prioritize payment of salaries.

He has also directed the Ministry to ensure that critical infrastructure like roads, rails are protected and as much as possible, use local inputs so that the country retains value within her economy.

The President further directed that measures that protects the poor and the vulnerable are in place.

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, who heads the Presidential committee to review the impact of coronavirus on the economy, told journalists after the meeting with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, that in line with the directive, March 2020 salaries has already been paid to all federal government workers.

Mrs Ahmed said the committee briefed the President on current happenings around the world due to COVID-19 and the impact on the nation’s economy.

On the directives given, Ahmed said: “well, he has directed that we should make sure that salaries are paid, make critical infrastructures like roads, rails are protected, as much as possible use local inputs so that we retain value within our economy. And also make sure that we implement measures that protects the poor and the vulnerable.”

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