By Adedapo Adesanya

The World Bank said it has disbursed the sum of N35.3 billion to all the 36 states of the federation and the FCT as an advance payment for the implementation of the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus Programme (NG-CARES).

This disclosure was made by the Lead Specialist, World Bank Country Office, Abuja, Mr Foluso Okunmadewa at the 1st Implementation Support Mission for NG-CARES on Tuesday in Ikeja, Lagos.

He said that the programme was organised for the World Bank, the federal government and state delegates who would be participating in the implementation of the programme with Lagos as the host state.

Mr Okunmadewa, also the Task Team Leader, NG-CARES, World Bank, Abuja, said that all the 36 states were running the programme and had become effective in every state.

He added that the World Bank’s teams were in Lagos, Enugu, Yola, Birnin-Kebbi, adding that all the 36 states are participating in the implementation mission this week.

He added that the team had started going round all the 36 states for this particular mission to help them as they start the implementation process.

NG-CARES is a $750 million intervention programme that started running in 2021 and would end in 2023.

It is a collaboration between the World Bank, the Federal Government and the 36 state governments.

According to him, the total allocation to each state of the federation is the equivalent of $20 million but it is result-based financing, so the money is not given to the state upfront.

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“But because most states do not have enough resources to start the intervention, advance money was given to the states.

“Advance were given to the states at a different amount ranging from $500 million to $1.3 billion in some cases.

“A total of N35.3 billion has been disbursed as of yesterday (Monday) to all the 36 states of the federation and the FCT as advance.

“It is hoped that by the next six months when the World Bank must have verified the results from the states, the second disbursement will take place and the advance will be recovered.

“Lagos state is among the best, It got N900 million,” he said.

Mr Okunmadewa said that NG-CARES was set up to alleviate the impacts of COVID-19 on livelihood, welfare, food supply system, the informal sector and the local economy.

He noted that due to the pandemic, many people became poor while others became poorer.

“It’s true that when COVID-19 pandemic was rampant, people recognised its immediate impact on their lives and also recognised that it was affecting livelihood.

“Even now that the effects on lives, sickness and all other things may have subsided, the impacts it had to have on livelihood, on the level of welfare of people, on food and supply system, impact on the informal sector, local economy, are still there.

“Those impacts need to be alleviated in a way.

“People who were poor before COVID-19 became poorer, people who were not poor before the pandemic became poor. Now there is no doubt that they needed to be supported,” he noted.

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The team leader said that the World Bank had adopted a performance-based-financing approach that would ensure that the support gets to the average Nigerians who are really in need of the intervention.

He noted that unless and until the government itself works with the people that really need this assistance and provides them with the assistance upfront; the outcome and the output are verified, the refinancing from the World Bank would not come.

“The finances follow the results, it does not follow the activities, it does not follow training and capacity building.

“It actually follows the number of farmers that have been assisted, the number of poor households that have been given social transfers, the number of local enterprises, micro and small scales that have been facilitated and recovered.

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