In the last one year, the Federal Government, through its ministries and agencies, designed and implemented several programmes aimed at rescuing the economy and the citizenry from recession. Key amongst the programmes are the Bail-Out Funding to states and the Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP).
In both programmes, money was channeled to the beneficiaries through the state governments, with the aim of using this mid-tier government to stimulate the economy through cash injection and financial support for critical sectors of the economy.
The Bail-Out Funding programme was purely a public, if not a political- sector driven financial transaction, but the ABP is a Public-Private Participation(PPP) programme where the beneficiaries receive state funds for agricultural enterprises.
Over the years, relentless campaign for a private sector driven economic growth has been loud and consensual across all divides – political, economic and professionals circles.
Obviously, the campaign has been boosted by loads of evidence that public sector driven development has not only proven sub-optimal ,but largely laced with corruption of grand proportion.
However,there are two areas of concern on both programmes: First, is the judicious application of the funds and second, the refund or repayments since both are loans in the strict sense of the programmes.
Obviously, it does not require a soothsayer to expect that the Bail-Out Funds will not be treated better than all other funds entrusted in the hands of politicians,
including state governors who sometimes appear untouchable.
In the circumstance, repayment will be difficult except by a recourse to withholding of FAAC revenues which would become counter productive to the very essence of the programme –which is to assist them pay their workers.
Incidentally, most of the affected states are still owing their workers as much as the point at which the intervention bail-out funds were given.
Thus, the watchword on both funding programmes should be accountability and value-for-money. These were focused in structuring ABP where the private sector, rather than government, is taken in to assume, or at least, share in the risk of any failure.
We urge the CBN to` not only drive its ABP, but also to convince the Federal Government that hand-out strategies aimed at de-freezing demand and reflating the economy such as in the bail-out programme is really retrogressive.
Rather, the N560 billion already spent should be recovered and no further deployment of stimulative cash injection of such be embarked upon subsequently. We recommend that ABP should be pursed with more vigour and expanded to cover all states, crops and sectors. If the bail-out funds were applied to private sector responsibility and risk underwriting, the results would have been far more plausible and evident.