The finance minister said the 200,000 low cost housing scheme will be supported by the World Bank.
The Federal Government said it is targeting the development of over 200,000 low-cost housing units in the next five years under a fresh mortgage finance scheme designed to help redress the huge housing deficit challenge in the country.
The Minister of Finance and Coordinator of the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said in Abuja on Wednesday at the mid-term report presentation by the President Goodluck Jonathan administration that the World Bank has already pledged its readiness to support the scheme with a $300million facility at zero interest, with 40 years repayment period and ten years grace period.
According to the Minister, government is concerned that it has become increasingly difficult for young Nigerians to own houses due to the high cost of mortgage financing, adding that the Federal Ministry of Housing has been directed to work with a mortgage finance institution to develop ways that could make it easier for Nigerians to get mortgages at affordable rates.
She said that houses to be developed under the new scheme would complement additional 61,800 units already constructed under social housing scheme in all the six geo-political zones in the country.
On efforts by the administration to create jobs, the Minister said the Federal Government’s share of N180billion from the Subsidy Reinvestment & Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) in 2012 was deployed to the provision of social safety nets that would help Nigerians in the low income group to check some social problems, including maternal and infant mortality, while the states and Local councils got N154billion and N76.4billion respectively.
She frowned at a situation where Nigeria is classified among countries with the highest rates of maternal and infant deaths in the world, saying this was unacceptable to government which has already initiated a programme targeting the training of over 9,000 mid-wives and health workers to help save by 2015 the lives of over one million women and children who would have died because of adequate healthcare.
Other areas the Federal Government has invested the SURE-P funds in include the development of social infrastructures, like roads and bridges, saying so far the Lagos-Kano rail line has become functional, while the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri line is scheduled for completion before the end of 2013.
Similarly, the rehabilitation of the Abuja-Kaduna line is about 60 per cent complete and Itakpe-Ajaokuta- Warri line, 77 per cent complete. She added that government has concluded arrangement to bring on stream more rail lines, by the end of the year, to take care of the passenger volume that has increased from one million in 2004 to 4.3million today.
Other efforts to boost the operational capacity of the country’s rail lines include the acquisition of 25 new locomotives engines from General Electric, while over 200 coaches and wagons have been refurbished.
On efforts to boost the operational capacity of the country’s industries, the Minister said Nigeria’s policy on cement production has been able to transform the country into a net exporter of cement, with current capacity to produce over 28million metric tons of cement, while local demand for cement is at 20 million metric tons, about 8million metric tons left for export.
She described the growth in the telecoms sector as phenomenal, with the population of Nigerians with mobile phones increasing by 93 per cent from 8.5milion figure in 2004, with 38 per cent of Nigerians having access to the internet.
A review of the achievements of government under the various youth job creation schemes showed that 1,200 young Nigerians that won grants of between N1million to N10million under the YouWIN programme have already created about 16,000 jobs, out of the target of between 80,000 and 110,000 set by government.
A breakdown of the figure, shows that about 2117 jobs were created in North Central part of the country; North East, 2,357; North West, 1,703; South East, 1,579; South South 1,555 and South West 2,577 in agriculture, media, ICT, manufacturing, retail entrepreneurial businesses, while about 70,000 jobs have been created under the Community service schemes designed to utilize the SURE-P funds to create employment for the unskilled Nigerians.
The Graduate Internship Scheme, which has a target of 50,000 jobs in partnership with the private sector, took off recently, she said.