The National Economic Council (NEC) has reached a unanimous decision to discontinue the use of the national social register employed by the previous administration for implementing conditional cash transfers. The council expressed concerns about the credibility of the register and its integrity during the compilation process. Consequently, NEC advised states to create their own comprehensive registers to facilitate cash transfers for vulnerable individuals.
During the council’s meeting presided over by Vice President Kashim Shettima, Governor Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State highlighted the challenges of digitally transferring money to the poorest of the poor, many of whom lack bank accounts and phone numbers. He emphasized the need for accurate and comprehensive registers developed at the state level to identify and support the vulnerable population effectively.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government announced plans to distribute 252,000 metric tons of grains to states at subsidized rates, aiming to alleviate the impact of the recent petrol subsidy removal.
Cost of Governance and Palliative Measures
Governor Soludo also addressed concerns regarding the cost of governance, urging states to be prudent and mindful of the fiscal space they operate in. The council emphasized the importance of implementing cash transfer policies for public servants for a limited duration while sustainable measures are put in place to address economic challenges.
States to Develop Their Registers
In response to the concerns over the national social register’s credibility, state governments have been advised to develop their registers using formal and informal methods to ensure accuracy and inclusivity. Governors from various states pledged to work on generating registers that would accurately identify and reach the most vulnerable individuals in their respective regions.
The Federal Government aims to collaborate with state and local governments to distribute cash transfers and other palliative measures effectively. Each state will have the flexibility to design its cash transfer program, tailoring it to the needs of its population and fiscal capacity.
However, specific timelines for the development of state registers varied among states, with some indicating readiness in two weeks, while others will consult stakeholders before proceeding. Lagos State, known as a center of excellence, expressed its commitment to creating a comprehensive data register to ensure efficient allocation of resources.
The National Economic Council is determined to tackle the challenges and discrepancies surrounding the social register system to foster a more equitable distribution of assistance to those in need. Governors across the country are mobilizing efforts to develop reliable and comprehensive registers that accurately target the most vulnerable members of their communities.