President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the distribution of 150 trucks of rice seized by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to the 36 states of the federation.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed disclosed this while fielding questions from journalists at a news conference in Abuja on Monday.
The news conference was on the fiscal stimulus measures in response to COVID-19 pandemic and oil prices fiscal shock.
Ahmed said the seized trucks of rice had been handed over to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management for onward distributions to Nigerians.
She added that in addition to this, the President had also approved distribution of grains from strategic grain reserves across the country.
Ahmed also disclosed that President Buhari has approved the engagement of 774,000 Nigerians on Special Public Works programme in the country to cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic. She said that 1,000 people were expected to be recruited from each of the 774 local government areas in the country. According to her, N60 billion for allowances and operational cost has been earmarked from the COVID-19 crisis intervention fund for the initiative.
The minister stated that as part of the effort to support farmers in the country, the president also approved reduction of the price of fertilizer from N5,500 to N5,000 per bag. She said this was another measure to give subsidy to farmers in view of the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to her, more measures will be taken to provide more benefits to the citizens.
“We don’t want to rush and announce measures that will end up benefitting only a few of the segments. Our interest is to make sure that as much as possible a lot of Nigerians are productive and have liquidity in their hands.
“This will help to increase consumption, thereby assist to improve the economy.
“This is not something we will announce in a hurry without consulting with the central ministry and also without consulting with the key participants in the sector,” she said.
The minister noted that the emerging health and economic risks resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and decline in international oil prices posed existential threats to Nigeria’s economy, healthcare system, national security, as well as the lives of the citizens. She emphasised that extra-ordinary measures would be required, as the situation evolved, to address these challenges.