Government to scale down N500b social protection fund over recession

Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun

Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun

The Presidency has said it is scaling down the N500 billion voted for Special Protection Programme in view of the present economic challenges.The Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Maryam Uwais, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at an event to monitor the Federal Government Social Protection Programme and Sustainable Development Goal, organised by Action Aid.

She said that the development had become necessary because government was not getting enough revenue it envisaged when the programme was designed.Uwais was, however, not specific on the amount the fund would be scaled down to.

She said it would depend on the funds released by the Ministry of Finance. She explained: “We have budgetary constraint. So, we have to scale down and this depends on what the Ministry of Finance gives us, but clearly the government is not getting the revenue it expects.”

She said although money was yet to be released for the programme, but they had been developing a framework for the implementation of the project. She added that the cash transfer programme was about to start in nine states of the federation as they were about compiling the register of vulnerable people in the states.

Uwais said that the special intervention project was designed for delivery under five defined programmes namely: N-Power, homegrown school feeding, cash transfers, enterprise and empowerment programme and stem bursary programme.

She maintained that the school feeding programme had kicked off but what they were trying to do was to engage the civil society for effective monitoring of the programme.

According to Uwais, “We are developing a comprehensive register of vulnerable people in the society, so we want to engage the CSOs to ensure that that the register is credible and fair.

“We will be co-ordinating the programme in Abuja and most of the projects will be implemented at the state level; so, it is important to partner the CSOs, who work at the state level.”

Uwais lamented that the programme was facing lots of challenges including the non-release of funds and politicisation of the programme.The Action Aid Country Director, Ojobo Akuluwu said the aim of the workshop was to engage civil society groups in the implementation of the social protection programme, to ensure that the project was well broadcast to them for proper take-off.

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