Vice President Yemi Osinabjo has said that the Federal Government’s Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) is aimed at mitigating the macroeconomic shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja, said the vice president spoke virtually at a UN High-Level Forum on Jobs and Social Protection.
The vice president said that social protection schemes could break the cycle of poverty, give real access to jobs, economic opportunities, and improve human capacity and productivity.
He said that Nigeria’s response to the fallouts of COVID-19 was guided by the conviction that social protection schemes were crucial.
”The ESP is aimed at restoring growth by mitigating the macroeconomic shocks, tackling the health challenge, averting business closures, protecting and creating jobs, protecting the poor and vulnerable while repositioning the economy for future resilience.
“In addition to scaling up health interventions, the plan contained labour-intensive interventions in agriculture, housing, and public works programmes and the provision of solar energy to 5 million homes.
“The ESP also had a Survival Fund which gave payroll support to small businesses in manufacturing and services as well as to artisans and transporters. As a result of our interventions, we have been able to provide finance and off-take opportunities for millions of farmers.
“We have also been able to save up to 1 million jobs and prevented the close-down of at least 150,000 small businesses.
“We are also able to extend support to vulnerable groups by deepening our existing social intervention programmes and the development of a Rapid Response Register for cash transfers to the urban poor.”
He said that poor financial resources remained a constraint to achieving set objectives
Osinbajo acknowledged the importance of the recently approved increase of 650 billion dollars in the Special Drawing Rights(SDR) allocations for improving global liquidity.
The SDRs are supplementary foreign exchange reserve assets defined and maintained by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
They represent a claim to currency held by IMF member countries for which they may be exchanged.
The vice president also restated the call for improved access to vaccines and sustained funding of gas projects.
“W believe also that the already challenging global environment is now being further complicated by lack of access to vaccines as well as by policy moves in developed economies and international financial institutions to defund gas projects.
“It is clear that climate change and environmental damage will harm the prospect of creating jobs in many countries of the world including ours.
“Yet we know that access to energy is vital for generating the fast growth required to create jobs and to provide the resources for social protection.
“For a gas rich country like Nigeria, we have to deploy gas not only for electricity but also to reduce the carbon emissions that result from the use of firewood and coal for cooking,” he said.