15 October 2013, Lagos – The Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said that the World Bank has pledged to support Nigeria’s power sector and infrastructure development with about 1.4 million dollars.
She disclosed this while briefing newsmen on the outcome of the annual meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington DC.
“The World Bank Group, that is the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) mega, through the World Bank president has made known that they want Nigeria to be one of the focus countries in sub- Saharan African for their efforts in infrastructure, particularly on power. This means that they are willing to work with Nigeria to invest hundreds of millions of dollars.
“They have a lending programme of about a billion dollars a year but they are willing to use that and pull in more resources from the US through the power Africa initiative from the private sector, using the offices of IFC to help us address infrastructure problems.”
According to her, World Bank is planning to set up a global infrastructure facility and Nigeria will be one of the first countries to benefit considering the population and infrastructure needs.
“They want to concentrate in power, and they are already actively working with several private companies that wants to work in Nigeria. They are also promising to give us another 700 million dollars IBRD guarantees for the power sector as well as willing to invest 700 million dollars in transmission,” she said.
She added that issues on how to improve the social safety network programme in Nigeria was discussed, adding that the bank and the federal government would collaborate on 400 million social safety net programme plan.
The minister said that the programme would key into the existing social safety net programme already in the country like saving one million lives through reduced maternal mortality, instant cash transfers and improving nutrition of children, immunisation, HIV/Aids and malaria among others.
“the programme under conditional cash transfer would be used to scale up the project on cash transfer in education in Kano state in other to improve the number of out of school children, especially the girls.
“Nigeria also got pledges from the bank to help improve statistics and a lot of commendation on women empowerment programme,” she said.
On Nigeria Sovereign Wealth Investment, she said that it had been talking with the IFC and looking at various infrastructure projects.
According to her, the board of NSIA had announced that they would participate in the second Niger Bridge and other projects in Dams and irrigation in the northern part of the country.
“That’s going on, they are talking with IFC and IFC might co -invest with them, other sovereign wealth Funds are also looking to co-invest and they are also looking at pulling our pension fund.
On 2013 budget, the minister said that it was on cause as some of the speculations in the media were false.
“We have spoken to the National Assembly on amendments and they have done something and we have decided to continue implement.
“Please 2013 budget is being implemented, what is being perpetrated by some sections of the press that somehow the 2013 budget has fallen apart and not implemented is false.
This budget is being implemented, it still has some issues here and there but we’ve decided to go ahead to find a solution and take care of the missing money to pay people involved under the SURE-P programme.
*Nse Anthony-Uko, Leadership