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John Ameh, Abuja
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, said on Thursday that there was no guarantee that the Federal Government would implement the 2016 budget in full.
The minister, who took her turn to address members of the House of Representatives at the ongoing sectoral debate initiated by the House, explained that much depended on how much money was available to the government from crude oil sales to implement the N6.06tn budget.
The session was presided over by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara.
Adeosun, however, gave the lawmakers an assurance that all the funds generated by the government would be carefully spent and followed up.
“I cannot promise that every single agency will receive every money appropriated for them. The budget is an estimate and funds will be released based on revenue,” the minister said.
Only on Wednesday, the minister had reported a drop of N18.25bn in revenue accruable to the Federation Account and meant for sharing by the three tiers of government for the month of April.
Adeosun told the lawmakers that in spite of the drop in revenue, no ministry or agency was expected to lobby for funds, adding that there would be a need assessment before money would be released in the months ahead.
According to her, a detailed plan of projects by each ministry or agency will be studied before money is released.
“You have to tell us what you want to do with the money…but for capital projects, we will measure,” Adeosun added.
She said the government’s plan to cover the revenue gap was to focus more on improved duty and levy collection by the Nigeria Customs Service as well as other non-oil sources like taxes.
When she came under a barrage of questions from lawmakers on the demand for a new minimum wage of N56,000 by the Organised Labour, Adeosun avoided giving direct answers.
She merely emphasised that the government was working hard to improve on the quality of life in Nigeria.
For example, she told members that the Ministry of Agriculture was working on how to cut down the prices of food items, though she did not give details.
On President Muhammadu Buhari’s numerous foreign trips, the minister put up a defence thus, “Nigerians have underestimated how badly our international reputation was damaged. I would rather talk about how much has been restored.”
She gave an example of how the President used such trips to seek for the return of the country’s looted funds.
But, the minister complained that the drawback was that some of the countries gave tough conditions for the return of the looted money.
“These countries, who have enjoyed the benefits of being in custody of the funds, are not in a hurry to return them to Nigeria’s coffers,” she added.
She mentioned Switzerland as still keeping $320m of the late Gen. Sani Abacha’s loot on the excuse that Nigeria must fulfil certain conditions before the money would be handed over to the Federal Government.
Contrary to the belief that the recovered funds were in cash, Adeosun told the lawmakers that in some cases, they were wrist watches, landed properties and other jewellery.
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Source: Punch News