IMF Expresses Concern over North-South Wealth Disparity, Promises Technical Assistance

November 22, 2013 1:50 AM

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Team leader and Senior Economist with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Mr. Cheikh Anta Gueye has expressed concern over noticeable developmental disparity between the North and Southern part of the country.

Gueye made this known on Thursday when the team from IMF visited the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Millennium Development Goals (OSSAP-MDGs) to find out the country's performance track towards achieving the MDGs.

Though, Gueye commended the progress made by the country, he ,however, warned that achieving the MDGs target might not be possible if the North continues to lag behind in all the important indices.

"How do we address the regional differences and bridge the noticeable inequality between the north-south divide", the team asked.

"We support the effort of the FG towards achieving the MDGs targets. We think that they are making a lot of progress and we appreciate what they are doing towards reducing poverty. I think it’s in line with the goal of IMF to achieve macro-economic stability. We think they (FG) are on the right track going forward to high economic growth and we will provide technical assistance", he assured.

However, the team demanded integration of data and list of major intervention programmes towards achieving the MDGs across the country.

Meanwhile, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Millennium Development Goals (SSP-MDGs), Dr. Precious Gbeneol, disclosed that the three tiers of Government expends over N3 trillion annually as against the total sum of N4.3 trillion required to achieve the MDGs targets before the 2015 deadline.

Gbeneol said that the country has done remarkably well in meeting the targets of some of the MDGs, despite the shortfall of N1.3 trillion needed annually to achieve the goals.

According to her, the outcome of the Needs Assessment projected cost of meeting the MDGs from 2010-2015 at the exchange rate of N150 to $1 will require N4,259,550.

She said: "Based on the 2012 budget analysis, the three tiers of government spend more than N3.0 trillion on the MDGs with an annual gap of about N1.0 trillion.

The budget total for 7774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) is N1.75 trillion with MDGs component of N791 billion; while the total spending across the country is N3 trillion, with about N872 billion being spent by the Federal Government. However a fund-gap of N1 trillion will be needed every year to achieving the targets of MDGs".

The SSAP-MDGs listed the target areas where the annual budget of N4.3 trillion would be required to include Education N282 million, Health N743 million, Agriculture N1.1 billion, Energy N810,500 million, Water N418,500, Housing N126,750 million, Roads N733 million, and Environment N31,500 million.

She disclosed the Conditional Grant Scheme/Cash transfer, where total of N10billion were spent last year on 112,000 households in 24 states have been helpful in addressing issue of poverty and hunger, adding that the amount will be expanded to N20b across 30 states in 2014.

Gbeneol acknowledged that, "Child mortality rate is worse in the North, so also women literacy rate especially but as a country we have done remarkably well to reduce the population suffering from hunger drastically from 19.1 per cent in 1981 to 8.62 per cent in 2012. Poverty reduction is also on the downward trend.

Source: dailytimes.com.ng

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