Okonjo-Iweala seeks World Bank’s support for data base on Nigeria’s poor

By IndepthAfrica
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Apr 23rd, 2012
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Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala speaks during a media briefing in Pretoria in this March 23, 2012 file photo. Okonjo-Iweala, 57, was nominated on March 23 by African power houses Nigeria, South Africa and Angola to lead the poverty-fighting institution when its current president Robert Zoellick steps down in June. To match Interview WORLDBANK-NIGERIA/ REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/Files (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS HEADSHOT)

Washington DC – Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, has solicited the World Bank’s support to create a good data base to help improve the social safety nets in Nigeria.

She spoke on Sunday at the on-going Spring Meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington DC.

Okonjo-Iweala said the social safety nets had helped many countries to reduce poverty and unemployment rates but noted that it could be achieved with effective data base.

“The very important thing for a successful social safety net is targeting, you must have the bases to be able to target those who need help.

“So, I insisted that we don’t have a data base to know who are the poor and what level of income in Nigeria.

“It is not enough to know that 50, 60 or 70 per cent of the population are poor; you need to have data on the poor households because they are the ones to come up and collect the safety net.’’

Okonjo-Iweala said that Brazil had proved successful on social safety net because of its comprehensive data base of the people, which helped in disbursing funds to the right people.

According to the finance minister, Nigeria has yet to get the perfect key to a successful social safety net.

“But we don’t have one that we can rely on and not every State has one. So, I am saying to the World Bank and we are not the only country, help us to build this data base.’’

She said that under the SURE programme, there would be a soft targeted programme that would give conditional cash grant to pregnant women.

Also, Dr Peter Obi, the Governor of Anambra State, said the World Bank in Nigeria had helped some States to build statistics in the country.

He said that some state governments had developed bureaux of statistics that had been backed by the law and properly domesticated.

“This is what the World Bank and other institutions are helping us to upgrade because without that, there’s no way you can work or plan.

“Some of the States, I know there are about two or three of us, Anambra and Cross River, that are working on it, following the World Bank plan.

Sanusi, Obi say FG must save for future

Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the CBN Governor, also reiterated the need to save in the Excess Crude Account (ECA) considering the unprecedented global economic challenges.

Sanusi made this call on Sunday while fielding questions from newsmen at the on-going Spring Meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC, U.S.

He said that with the savings in the ECA, government would be able to tackle many issues, if there was a downturn in oil price in the global market.

“Until we have these structural reforms in place, we need to protect ourselves ahead of the vulnerability of our economy to oil price.

“And, therefore, this enforces the need to save at the time when the oil prices are high because it fills dark clouds to translate into fall in oil price and we are going to have major problems.

“So, the whole idea of saying let us look at the ECA, let us save now while the prices are over 100 dollars, not because we have problems now but if something happens and something may happen given what we are seeing.’’

Sanusi noted that in case of drop in the price, the country might have challenges on the fiscal side of the economy.

Contributing, Anambra State Governor Peter Obi, said that the issue of saving was imperative for an individual or country to survive.

He said that the idea of saving was to avoid any difficulty in managing the economy in case of any negative development in the oil price in the market.

“What we are saying is what Nigerians should take very seriously. What we are saying is that today the oil price is high, now that we have high oil price, lets save in case the price takes a U-turn tomorrow, so that we have something to fall on.’’

“The pressure from the Governors Forum is based on the constitution but that the constitution never said `don’t save’.

According to Obi, the constitution says that whatever we have should be shared among the three tiers of government.

“That means that even if you save, you are saving for the three tiers of government.’’ (NAN)

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