The federal government yesterday said that the proposed 2021 budget as submitted to the National Assembly would not be recalled amid calls to tinker with the appropriation bill as the country plunges into another recession.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this to State House correspondents after the virtual federal executive council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa.
According to her, government had devised plans and strategies, other than tinkering with the appropriation bill, to deal with the recession.
She said, “On the 2021 Budget, we are not planning to retrieve the budget or to reverse the budget beyond the work of appropriation that the National Assembly is currently doing in consultation with us.”
Ahmed further explained that the quarter three trend, in spite of the recession, was better than the projections of the IMF and showed that
the recession would be short-lived, even as she attributed the positive trend of the nation’s economy to faithful implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plans (ESP).
Accordingly, she expressed optimism that the ESP will help the country out of the recession sooner than later.
The minister noted: “The steps that were taken was a vigorous implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan. You will recall that the ESP was designed to be a 12 months plan, to act as a bridge between the ERGP and its successor plan, but also it was designed specifically to help us quickly exit recession, which we had projected was going to happen.
“So, the ESP implementation is really on course, it’s focused and also the implementation of the 2020 Budget is really on course and is much focused. We have been able to release a large volume of capital funding into ministries, departments and agencies, enabling a lot of public works going on simultaneously all over the country.
“So how we will maintain this is to make sure we continue to implement the ESP as it is planned. It will help us exit recession, it will help us reset back on the path of growth and on a road that is sustainable”.
Committee On Border Reopening To Submit Report To PMB
The Finance minister also disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari would soon receive a report of a presidential committee to advise on the reopening of the nation’s borders closed since 2019.
Nigeria had in August last year closed its land borders on account of the proliferation of illegal importation of drugs, small arms and agricultural products into Nigeria from neighbouring West African countries.
But Ahmed said the committee set up by President Buhari had done an assessment of the gains of the closure and had recommended to the president to reopen the borders.
She said, “On the border closure, Mr President has set up a committee that I chair, alongside the Minister of Foreign Affairs and other ministers, including Interior, Customs, Immigration, the security services, to review and advise him on the issue of border closure.
“The committee has just completed its work and we’ll be submitting our report, I’ve signed my copy, I gave everybody to sign between today and tomorrow so that we submit the report to Mr President”.
FG Okays N38.7bn For Roads, Ecological Projects
Meanwhile, the federal government has approved the sum of N21billion for various road maintenance contracts in different parts of the country.
Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), disclosed this to State House correspondents after the virtual federal executive council meeting presided over by President Buhari.
According to him, the contracts approved, from a memorandum he presented on behalf of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), three in all, are part of the 191 road repairs it has to undertake in the 2020 Budget.
Fashola said, “The memorandum we presented today was on behalf of FERMA. FERMA is the parastatal of the Ministry of Works and Housing responsible for maintenance of federal roads.
“During the meetings of the Economic Sustainability Committee set up to manage the impact of COVID-19, one of the responsibilities of FERMA is to execute extensive labour works on road repairs and the budget of 2020 was then amended to deal with the COVID-19 impact.
“As a result of that, FERMA then had a total of 191 road repairs, road rehabilitation, and road intervention projects nationwide. 92 of those projects have been awarded by FERMA at its threshold level. 89 of them have been approved by the ministry at the ministerial tender’s board threshold level.
“So, all of those projects are now being issued letters of award, mobilisation, and others. Now, there are 10 that are required to come to the Federal Executive Council because of their financial threshold level. Out of those 10 projects, three were presented today.
“So, those three presented and approved by council today was for Gasamu-Hamshi-Gogoram road in Yobe State for N14.528billion to MotherCat, the link road connecting Uneme-Tusamu-Odoga to Okpekpe in Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State for N991.851million, and Mamabu Donga Local Government Area road in Taraba South Local Government Area of Taraba State to Wishchina Engineering Limited for N6.397billion.
“These are late third quarter, early fourth quarter interventions to respond to the COVID impact on the economy. This will tell you some of the things the Minister of Finance was saying that Economic Sustainability Plan implementation is what will take us out of recession. So, you see efforts to do that and so many other departments doing different things. This is our responsibility”.
Also, special adviser to the president on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed that FEC gave approval for award of contracts for emergency procurement of first and second quarters 2020 soil erosion/flood and pollution control accelerated intervention projects in favour of various contractors in the sum of N17.754, 717,234.41 inclusive of 7.5 per cent VAT with various completion/delivery periods.
He listed the projects to include: “Gully erosion and control along Ndam/Agbor road, Nnobi and Alor towns in Idemili/South LGA, Phase two, Anambra State (to Telesis Limited) N.495,878,764 – 18 months
“Erosion and flood menace beside Yem Kem House along Oye-Ifaki road, Oye LGA (Strabic Construction Ltd.) N792, 311,211.11) – nine months; Somolu/Bariga LGA/ Akoka/Ilaje community, Akoka-Lagos flood and erosion control project, Lagos State (Partibon Services Ltd.) N1.786, 146,630.98 – 10 months.
“Gully erosion control at Egbo-Ideh community, Ugheli South LGA, Delta State (Harris & Dome Nigeria Ltd.) N1, 328,306,924.00 – 24 months
“Gully erosion control and road improvement works in Darazo LGA, Bauchi State (Powerhill Construction Ltd.) N3, 897,577,627.79 – 24 months.
“Gully erosion control works at Ladanal community, Nasarawa LGA, Kano State (U.Y.K. Nigeria Ltd.) N1, 337,681,584.69 – eight months.
“Devastating effect of gully erosion in Gboko Township, Benue State (Gaffar Worldwide Resources Ltd.) N1.503, 970.714.83 – 12 months.
“Erosion and flood control works in Wase and Bashar towns, Wase LGA, Plateau State (Global Legend Integrated Concept Ltd.) N1,687,162,328.95 – 14 months.
“Gully erosion control and road improvement works along Plot 1398, off Kainji Crescent and Katampe Extension, FCT, Abuja (IMB Corporate Synergy Ltd.) N555, 569,610.76 – six months.
“Soil erosion, River channelisation and slope protection within Maitama District (Phase II, FCT, Abuja (Masarki Nigeria Ltd.) N1,887,495,486.63 – 12 months
“Supply and installation of 12 nos. on site flameless/smell-less incinerator (50kg/he) for the national blood transfusion centres in some federal medical centres and teaching hospitals (Black Wheel Multi-Links Ltd.) N823.677, 900.00 – six months.
“Supply and installation of six numbers containerised incinerators (250kg/her) for the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) one in each geo-political zone (STJ Integrated Resources Ltd.) N658, 938,450.00 – six months”.