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Cash transfer: FG seeks fresh $400m loan to fund 15 million households

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The Federal Government has approached the World Bank for a fresh loan of $400m for the conditional cash transfer to 15 million households as one of the measures to cushion the effects of petrol subsidy removal on Nigerians.

The $400m will bring to $1.2bn the amount that the Federal Government is borrowing from the World Bank for the cash transfer as it had earlier secured a loan of $800m for the same purpose.

President Bola Tinubu announced the conditional cash transfer to 15 million households in a nationwide address to commemorate the country’s independence on October 1 as part of measures to cushion the effects of the subsidy removal on petrol, which has led to an astronomic rise in the cost of living.

He also announced that the Federal Government would commence the payment of N25,000 monthly to 15 million households for three months from October to December 2023.

The immediate past administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had secured $800m from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank) to provide post-petroleum subsidy palliatives for over 50 million Nigerians. The loan was meant to be accessed by the succeeding administration.

In his October 1 broadcast, President Tinubu also announced the approval of N25,000 provisional allowance for junior federal workers over the next six months.

He said the approval followed negotiations with labour unions and other stakeholders in the business community to increase the federal minimum wage without triggering undue inflation.

“For the next six months, the average low-grade worker shall receive an additional N25,000 per month,” the President stated.

However, following protests about the exclusion of other categories of workers and pensioners and the threat by the organised labour to embark on a nationwide strike, the government announced N35,000 provisional wage award for all treasury-paid Federal Government workers for six months following further consultations with the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress.

A top government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue, told Sunday PUNCH that the Tinubu administration would fund the N35,000 cash award to civil servants by sending a supplementary appropriation bill to the National Assembly.

The source stated, “The government is funding the N35,000 wage increase for all federal civil servants and it is not taking a loan. The one the government is taking a loan for is the one of N25,000 multiplied by three months for 15 million households. There is a loan of $800m on this one and the government is adding $400m, making it $1.2bn, which will be used for the conditional cash transfer.

“But, the other one (cash award to federal civil servants), the government will fund it. So, most likely there will be a supplementary appropriation for that because it is illegal to spend money out of the government budget.”

Meanwhile, Nigeria has maintained its fourth position on the World Bank’s top 10 International Development Association borrowers’ list.

This was after moving up from fifth position in the 2022 fiscal year.

Despite maintaining its fourth position, the country accumulated about $1.3bn debt within a one-year period.

The World Bank Fiscal Year 2022 audited financial statement showed that Nigeria moved to the fourth position on the list with $13bn IDA debt stock as of June 30, 2022.

However, the World Bank Fiscal Year 2023 audited financial statement showed that Nigeria owed about $14.3bn IDA debt stock as of June 30, 2023, but maintained its fourth position on the list.

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