By Mustapha Sumaila
The African Development Bank (AfDB) says the 1.1 billion dollars Nigeria’s budget support request from the bank will be responded to speedily through its crisis budget support facility.
Mr Ebrima FAAL, the Senior Country Director of the bank, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in a mail interview on Thursday.
FAAL explained that the Federal Government requested for one billion dollars budget support to mitigate financing gap stemming from sharp fall in oil prices and its adverse impact on the overall economy.
He said the request also included 100 million dollars to support ongoing efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 in the country.
According to him, the bank is currently discussing with the government on the details of the request.
Similarly, he said the bank had engaged in discussions with both the government and the private sector in collaboration with other development partners on projects and programmes that would directly address difficulties arising from the COVID-19 crisis.
“All these will be fast disbursing loans with flexibility to help address the national response to the COVID-19 virus.
“The Bank has built up relevant experience from a range of emergency operations for natural disasters and disease epidemics.
“It was among the first development partners to approve an emergency operation in response to the Ebola epidemic in April 2014, and therefore has been able to deepen its capacity to work with key partners such as the WHO and the West African Health Organisation (WAHO).
“In general, the Bank’s comparative advantage has been in providing budget support to affected countries. Budget support has advantages in terms of flexibility, helping Regional Member Countries to meet both the direct costs of their COVID-19 response and to manage the wider economic impacts and speed of response,” he explained.
The senior country director noted that the proposed package in Nigeria would respond to the government’s request, provide rapid, cost-effective and targeted emergency budget support through a fast-tracked approval process to provide immediate relief to Nigeria.
According to him, this will help to address the crisis, providing the country with additional resources for public health interventions, social protection programmes and to protect their economies at a time of global volatility and uncertainty.
He added the AfDB’s support would offer liquidity to help fiscal stresses, to provide stability and allow for the maintenance of core public services and social infrastructure during the emergency period and it also considered the needs of the private sector.
“The intervention will offer support in a sustainable way that avoids deepening the debt burden, building on the gains in resilience achieved in recent years,” FAAL said.