The federal government said it has released the total sum of N460 billion to its ministries, departments and agencies for the execution of capital projects as contained in the 2018 budget.
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, made the disclosure yesterday (Wednesday) in Bali, Indonesia, at the ongoing International Monetary Fund/World Bank Annual meetings.
“The amount of releases is N460 billion as of today (Wednesday),” the minister disclosed. He did not give details of the releases. LEADERSHIP was not able to immediately get the minister of finance, Zainab Ahmed, to speak to the specific figures of the budget releases to the various MDAs of the federal government, either.
Also, Udoma stated that following the resumption of the national assembly from recess, the executive would finalise the 2018 borrowing plan and present it to the lawmakers for approval.
He said the figures in the already prepared debt plan would be amended to be in tune with the current realities,but it would not alter the total figures in the already signed budget.
President Muhammadu Buhari, had sent a letter to the national assembly, asking for approval to borrow $2.8 billion to fund the deficit in the 2018 budget. Udoma said the federal government was optimistic that it would have a resolution of the 2018 borrowing plan “to be able to fund the budget even more.”
The minister said the cabinet members “are not distracted by electioneering at all. We have been mandated by the President to stay focused on the economy. Stay focused on growth, all the implementation strategies for the ERGP.”
Udoma said the finance heads of the federal government were in Bali to talk about the progress the administration was making back home and talk to investors about the opportunities in Nigeria.
“We have good news for the investors. By the end of this year, we will be growing at least, at 2.1 per cent. Things are going well in Nigeria. Things are getting better. We are in a stronger position today than in 2015. We now have trade surplus. Our exports are growing. Our imports are not increasing. All the indices are positive. We are very encouraged. Non-oil sector is growing at 2.05 per cent. However, we have to keep on growing, working hard,”he said.
The IMF had earlier raised concern over priority of project funding in the country. Udoma said with regard to even spread of wealth, this is the first administration that has put aside N500 billion for social investment programme. He said the government was conscious of her needs to address the issues of the vulnerable.
Earlier, Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, who spoke after a meeting of the Nigerian delegation with president of Africa Import-Export Bank (Afreximbank), said part of the discussion at the meeting was the possibility of increasing Nigeria’s shareholding in the bank.
Nigeria is a major shareholder in the bank. Afreximbank president, Prof. Benedict Oramah, said Nigeria currently occupies the third position in the number of countries with the highest shares in the bank. Nigeria comes behind Egypt and Zimbabwe. Nigeria hosts about 40 per cent of Afreximbank’s portfolio, worth $3.1 billion.
“We also discussed the issue of setting up an industrial park in Nigeria in partnership between the ministry of industry, trade and investment and Afrexim in key centres of Lagos, Kano and one in Kaduna. We will need to consider increasing our shareholding in the bank. There is a lot of value we are getting from Afrexim,” she said.