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Saturday, December 9, 2023

FG is taking steps to alleviate pains of reforms – Information minister

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, says President Bola Tinubu is taking all the necessary steps to alleviate the pains and cushion the impact of the foundational reforms being carried out.

The minister underscored the point that the essence of the reforms was to make life better for Nigerians, even as the administration awaited the longer-term benefits of the reforms.

He said Nigerians should understand that President Tinubu was doing the needful to make life better for all Nigerians, both at home and abroad.

“A provisional wage increment of N35,000 monthly for six months, to enhance federal minimum wage, without causing undue inflation, was made

“Establishment of an Infrastructure Support Fund for states to invest in critical areas that will create an enabling environment for businesses was also on hand.

“Launch of a N100 billion CNG bus rollout programme to deliver CNG-powered buses, and establishment of a Presidential Committee to drive implementation has been articulated to end transportation crisis.

“Since he assumed office, the president has signed no fewer than five Executive Orders, aimed at improving Nigeria’s business and fiscal environment, and increasing foreign exchange supply.

He said government had established a Presidential Fiscal Policy and Tax Reform Committee to reform the tax system while also reducing tax burden on Nigerians.

“The committee has this week presented its first set of reform proposals to the president, and Nigerians can be rest assured that they will be implemented.

“I must emphasize that one of the primary mandates of the committee is to reduce the tax burdens and complications faced by Nigerians,” Idris said.

According to the minister, the administration of Tinubu is finalising the process for payment of a Cash Transfer of N25,000 monthly to 15 million of the poorest and most vulnerable households in Nigeria, for three months.

He explained that there was a presidential directive for the release of 200,000 metric tonnes of grains from strategic reserves to households across the 36 states and FCT to moderate prices.

The minister added that the directive also ordered the release of 225,000 metric tonnes of fertilizers, seedlings and other inputs to farmers across the country.

“An access-to-credit programme for startups and MSMEs, that will be launched soon to provide N50 billion in conditional grants to one million businesses across Nigeria between now and March 2024.

“We have launched the 3MTT programme that aims to develop three million technical talents by 2025, in line with the president’s vision for making Nigeria a global hub for digital jobs.

“In just two weeks since it was launched, close to 500,000 applications have been received from across Nigeria.

“Still in line with the jobs agenda, we have recently launched the National Talent Export Programme (NATEP), to create one million service-export jobs over the next five years, and make Nigeria a global business outsourcing hub.

“We have also launched the Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Research Scheme, to provide funding for Nigerian startups and researchers working in the area of Artificial Intelligence,” Idris said.

He further explained that by January 2024, the Tinubu-led administration would be rolling out the new Federal Student Loan Programme that was announced a few months ago.

Idris stressed that some of these programmes were being delivered or going to be delivered in close partnership with the state governments.

He gave example of such programme as the distribution of grains and food items, cash transfers, and the deployment of CNG buses.

“These are in addition to the programmes and policies that the states are themselves rolling out on their own.

“We must always highlight the fact that the government’s contributions to solving Nigeria’s problems lie in the collective effort of federal and sub-national governments.

“We will not abdicate our responsibilities as a Federal Government, but it is also important to explain that we cannot do it alone.

“State and local governments have very important roles to play, and this is why the president has an open-door policy when it comes to engaging with them and finding ways to support them to deliver more effectively on their mandates.

“At the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Monday, Council approved a number of financing packages that will see several states receiving significant support to deliver on various programmes, including access to education for adolescent girls,” he said.

The minister said work was currently at an advanced stage on the 2024 Federal Budget.

He added that last week, the Federal Government approved the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Fiscal Sustainability Paper (FSP) underpinning the budget.

“Nigerians should rest assured that this, the first Appropriation Act of the Tinubu Administration, will be one that is wholly focused on the economic welfare and prosperity of all.

“Against this backdrop of multifaceted government interventions and commitment, I want to appeal to Nigerians to please exercise patience and optimism that Nigeria will emerge from this chapter stronger and more prosperous.

“This is our country, it belongs to all of us, regardless of who we may have voted for in the last elections.

“We want a country that works for all of us, no matter what our cultural, religious or political differences might be.

“To guarantee this kind of country that works on all levels for all its people, let us strive to put our differences aside, to believe the best about our country, and to support our elected leaders.

“Let our criticisms be constructive, let our actions be honest and patriotic.

“On our part, we will continue to strive to rebuild the trust of citizens in the ways and workings of government, and boost the credibility of public information and communication,” Idris said.

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