Anambra State Governor,Chief Willie M. Obiano,has unveiled relief packages to reduce the debilitating effects of the current economic recession on the people.
The relief packages which are mainly special intervention programmes and policies,
designed to free the citizens considerably from the biting recession,were contained in a special broadcast titled, “Rising from the Brinks: A Special Broadcast on the Economic Stimulus Package by the Government of Anambra State” which were relayed to the public on Tuesday, September 20, 2016.
Giving reasons why he has introduced the new anti recession programmes and policies,Obiano said “Following the formal announcement by the Federal Government that the nation’s economy has gone into a RECESSION, I consider it my duty as your Governor to distill the message of the economic situation of the country down to the grassroots. However, following this development too, I am happy to announce to you that I have come up with a Stimulus Package that will ease the pain of the recession and help our dear state bounce back to prosperity. Ndi Anambra, before I unfold my Stimulus Package to you, I want to assure you that the government of Anambra State is fully aware of the difficulties you are going through in your families, in your businesses and in your various communities. I wish to assure you that you are not alone! My brothers and sisters, I feel your pain! Biko, unu ebezina maka na agu nwelu nchekwube anaghi egbu. Anyi nwelu olile anya! Oga adikwanu nma!
Brothers and sisters, our country’s painful journey into the current recession is fairly known to us. The events that triggered this decline are very well documented in the public domain. So, I will not go through the details of how we arrived where we are. Ndi Anambra, I wish to assure you that after a careful study of the situation, I am more convinced now than ever before that with our fundamentals, our infinite capacity to come back from deficits and our implicit faith in God, our story should be different in Anambra State.”
He disclosed that his new anti recession policies and programmes would cover four key areas, Tax Relief Programme,Special Intervention Programmes for Small and Medium Enterprises,as well as large Enterprises,) Social Intervention Programme for low income households and finally, Relief Intervention shall witness the suspension of the sale of consolidated emblems in Anambra State,suspension of the collection of Hawkers Permit on all streets in the state, suspension of the collection of Wheelbarrow Tax in all markets in the state and lastly, the abolition of the imposition of unapproved levies on students in public primary and secondary schools in the state.
Obiano stated that all these far-reaching pronouncements shall take immediate effect,adding that his role as the Governor is to envisage challenges and provide solutions that will ensure a speedy comeback from difficult situations that require the power and might of a state government.
“This is what my administration has done in the past two years through ASBA, Anambra Small Business Agency. This Agency is a very important institution that I created to serve as a catalyst to our domestic economy. So far, ASBA has effectively distributed the sum of N1.5bn as start-up capital to many SMEs and MSMEs in Anambra State. These funds are part of the N2bn that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) made available to states about two years ago to help stimulate local entrepreneurship across the country.”, Obiano stressed.
He said the Anambra Small Business Agency, ASBA was set up with credible manpower and a strategic focus on the productive sectors.He contended that although it may not be known to many people, the truth is that the famous Anambra Rice owes its growth to government intervention through ASBA and that many other manufacturers have also benefitted from this initiative.
He gave insight into his policy direction saying, “Therefore, arising from the highly visible success recorded by ASBA, we shall carry out the following policies to provide relief to the productive sectors and stimulate the domestic economy. We shall provide ASBA with a minimum of N3 billion to lend to SMEs and MSMEs at 9% interest rate across key sectors.
“We shall re-channel earlier accessed Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme funds totalling to about N1.5 billion to support this sector. ASBA will handle it as usual and rigorously follow the standard modalities.
“We shall fast-track the roll-out of the CBN Anchor Borrowers Program in our state to support SME/MSMEs in the agricultural sector. At the same time, we have since commenced consultations with the business community in the state and will soon hold an interactive session with the Awka, Nnewi and Onitsha Chambers of Commerce as well as the state chapter of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN). This will enable us understand their most pressing needs in order to make a strong case on their behalf to the Presidency and other relevant authorities.”
Concerning the Social Intervention Programme for Low Income Households and the most vulnerable populations of the state,Obiano assured that intervention in this area is broken down into two components. The first component shows what they have already done to ease the pain of the recession while the second segment outlines what they shall quickly do to consolidate on our recent efforts so far.
According to Obiano, “Now, here are the things we have done to mitigate the impact of the recession in Anambra State in Low income Households and the most vulnerable groups. We have employed 500 persons into various positions in primary health centres across the state,We have engaged 300 road sweepers to keep our cities clean and 250 youths to rid our roads of potholes in our zero pothole programme,we also employed 300 youths into Operation Clean and Healthy Anambra ,OCHA brigade to support our enforcement drive,we made tuition fees in 11 vocational colleges free in the state to ensure that more youths acquire the necessary skills for survival,
Similarly, we have also lowered Okada and Keke levies to N50 and N200 daily respectively to cushion the effect of recession, subject to the completion of the registration exercise with the Ministry of Road, Rail and Water Transportation we are seriously considering a waiver for this segment of the low income group.”
He said his intervention would also involve the provision of the sum of N3.6 billion to fund the on-going N20 million choose-your-project community program in all the 179 communities of
Anambra, provide automatic employment to all graduates from universities in Anambra State that are living with disabilities into the State Civil Service, adding that the aim of this initiative is to encourage all our brothers and sisters living with disabilities to embrace education as the key to a better life.
Speaking further, he said that
government shall work closely with the United Nations Development Programme to provide Training and empowerment programmes for the uneducated physically disabled members of the society.
Obiano summed up his intervention policies contending,”We shall intensify efforts to tap into the numerous social programs at the World Bank, such as Community Social and Development Programmes, Youth Employment and Social Support Operation and the Rural Access Mobility Programme.
Lastly, we have aggressively keyed into all the social investment programmes available at the Federal Government, mainly the Home Grown School Feeding and the Conditional Cash Transfer Programmes.
Working closely with the FG, we hope to commence these programmes in the next two months.The last of our Economic Stimulus initiative is to sustain our On-going Intervention in Infrastructure (for-Jobs). Ndi Anambra, experience has shown that investing in infrastructure is one of the most effective ways of breathing life into an economy in recession. It has a direct multiplier effect on job creation and reduces the level of hopelessness and desperation in many households.
My strategy in this regard will be guided by prioritizing and identifying projects with huge economic impact. Here are some of the initiatives I have mapped out under this heading: We shall fund the development of 500 hectares of land in all agrarian communities across the three Senatorial Zones in the state to support out-grower schemes and link them up to big industries in the state. For example, next year, Delfarm Songhai Ltd will commence the supply of sorghum that is produced in Igbariam to Intafact Breweries Ltd in Onitsha. Having trained 250 youths at our School of Agriculture in Mbakwu, we shall fund three Youth Empowerment Schemes in fish farming, garri and ice processing clusters in the State. We have earmarked the sum of N225m for that.
We have also earmarked the sum of N300m to be distributed to stimulate Vegetable Production in the state and enhance our highly popular Vegetables-Export Programme to the UK and other parts of the world.We shall fund the construction of strategic roads and infrastructure projects with high economic and social impact across the State once the rains stop.We shall leverage development partnerships and Federal Government funding for intervention in education and healthcare infrastructure.
Last but not the least, we plan to attract reputable and serious investors to partner with the State on viable infrastructure projects that will boost economic activities in the state. We have carefully thought through these projects and set aside funds for these initiatives. I believe that these initiatives will stimulate economic activity across all nooks and crannies of the state.”