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World Bank net commitment to Nigeria hits $11bn

The World Bank Group, says the bank’s net commitment to Nigeria over the years is about 11 billion dollars.

Country Director, Mr Rachid Benmessaoud, said this on Thursday in Abuja at the maiden edition of the Nigeria Portfolio Performance Award.

Organised in partnership with the Ministry of Finance, the award was to recognise and honour outstanding performance from project implementation units of World Bank supported projects at states and federal levels.

According to him, the bank’s commitment is geared toward projects targeted at alleviating poverty and improving the lives of the people.

He said that 60 per cent of the bank’s programmes were implemented at the state level and another 40 per cent by the Federal Government.

Benmessaoud said that the bank’s portfolio in Nigeria was among the largest in the entire African region, adding that it had more than 30 operational projects.

He said that the projects cut across health, education, agriculture, social protection, energy, infrastructure, and governance among others in the 36 states of Nigeria, including the FCT.

The Country Director, also said that the bank was working toward a new country partnership framework that would outline the new reform challenges that the government faces and how it could support it in implementing solutions to the challenges.

The country partnership strategy is always anchored on the economic reform plan of the government and in this case, we have used the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

Which is the medium term programme of the government on which we are anchoring our country partnership framework.

We have plans to scale up our commitment but you know the scale up is not only about funding.

One can say it is really important to realise that even if we scale up, it will not be sufficient to address the large gap that is needed to be filled.

We feel that the world bank can play a catalytic role in creating a conducive environment for private sector to finance infrastructure so that we can create the fiscal space for the government to put more money in human capital and in social spending,” he explained.

Speaking about the awards, the country director said that it was introduced to recognise the various entities that were involved in implementing the bank’s programmes in terms of their performance.

We have a number of criteria with which we have evaluated these entities and we felt that bringing all of these entities together into an award ceremony would help us to recognise all of the good works that all of them are doing and recognise those that have done something special that others can replicate.

There is a lot of learning that we are emphasising in our engagements, states have to learn from each other and that is what we would like to create, the space where the states can learn from each other,” he stated.

He said that the states were evaluated based on their investments, quality of briefings that they prepared for reporting to their boss (governor/commissioner) and quality of mechanisms that exists at the state level.

Benmessaoud added that the awards would henceforth be an annual event.

Mr Mahmud Isa-Dutse, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, restated the ministry’s commitment to the World Bank in building an enabling environment to manage its portfolio in Nigeria.

He added that the ministry would assist the bank deliver on all its projects implementation.

Mr Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna Sate while speaking with newsmen on the sidelines of the event said it was an excellent idea that would make the states to compete at the level of governance.

He also said that the awards would make the state governors interested in World Bank projects and utilise them.

One of the things I found upon taking office about four years ago was that most governors do not know what is going on as far as World Bank financed projects are concerned.

Often you find large amounts of money sitting idle that can be used for the benefit of the state that the governors are not aware of.

The more the states carry out their projects, the more impact they will have on social sectors because most of the projects financed by the World Bank are targeted at social sectors like education, health care, nutrition and so on,” he said.

Source: Voice of Nigeria