Wednesday, August 10

Budget 2016 review likely, says Udoma

Budget 2016 review likely, says Udoma

Udoma Udo Udoma

•Fed Govt has released N331.5b for capital projects

A windling resources may force the Federal Government to review the budget, Minister of Budget and Planning Udoma Udo Udoma, said yesterday.

He added that the government is optimistic that the persistent fall in revenue projections will not continue for too long.

Udo Udoma, who spoke yesterday at a Town Hall meeting in Abuja, noted that the disparity between projected revenue and actual receipts in the last two quarters was obvious.

The meeting which was inspired by the Nigerian Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) focused on Effective implementation of the 2016 Budget.

Senator Udoma said the government was keeping a close watch on the economic indicators.

He said the budget signed by the president was well scrutinised and passed the due process of appropriation in the National Assembly before it was signed into law  in May.

He said: ‘‘We did not assent padded budget. The budget followed through the various stages of preparation and scrutiny and appropriation before it was signed into law.’’

He said government had released N331.5billion as part of capital allocation of the budget to key ministries covering sectors that will turn around the economy.

The minister said the 2017 Budget would be submitted to the National Assembly in October.

Other ministers at the meeting were Finance-Mrs Kemi Adeosun, Power, Works and Housing-Babatunde Fashola; Solid Minerals Development-Dr Kayode Fayemi; Agriculture -Chief Audu Ogbeh; Health-Prof. Isaac Adewole; Foreign Affairs-Godfrey Onyema; and Environment-Amina Mohammed. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was represented by the Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters, Dr Adeyemi Dipeolu.

The Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Sa’ad Abubakar, who was chairman of the event  was accompanied by the Etsu Nupe, His Highness Alhaji  Yahaya Abubakar

Udoma admitted that government is worried about the current trend which does not align with expectations as contained in the budget fundamentals.

The minister however said  if the downward trajectory persists, government might make reasonable adjustments to accord with prevailing realities.

He explained that at the inception of the current administration, the economy was facing several challenges including declining oil prices and production which led to declining external reserves and gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate.

He also identified rising inflation, increasing unemployment rate, insecurity, high cost of governance, corruption, infrastructure deficit and the worsening of key socio-economic indicators, as inherited problems.

Udoma said the 2016 budget was therefore to deal with these problems.

Information and Culture Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said government was ready to engage with Nigerians and explain its policies and actions to seek input from the people for better governance.

He was delighted that instead of joining the band of fault-finders and traditional critics of government, the alumni of NIPSS decided to constructively engage with government towards finding solutions and contributing to the growth of the economy  .

Fashola said though the ministry was working with lean resources, it was determined to do more in the interest of Nigerians.

According to him, the Federal Government had paid N300 billion for various projects since the budget was passed out of which the ministry received N102 billion.

He said of the sum received, the ministry had embarked on several road and electricity projects, including the rebuilding of the Mambilla and Zugeru Power Plants, among others.

“We are mindful that it is a tough time, but life will get back to normal. We are not a repository of knowledge; so we are willing to hear from you and make amends,’’ he said.

Mrs Adeosun said the government had decided to reverse the trend with increased capital expenditure and diversification of the economy from the current mono-product status.

Adeosun said diversification is an agenda which government must achieve, because it is a veritable means to unlock the economy and create more jobs for the people.

Mrs Adeosun said the government inherited 1.2 million public servants and spent N165 billion monthly as salaries.

She added that the government had been able to save N8 billion from the monthly pay roll of public servants due to various strategies introduced to block loopholes.

She maintained that the country‘s present economic challenges was not peculiar to Nigeria, adding that the economies of most western countries were built out of their diversity.

“Change can be extremely painful, but we must change,” she said.

Prof. Adewole, said Nigeria would end malaria mortality by 2020.

“We have set some time frame for ourselves. We are committed to reducing maternal mortality before the life span of this administration. We want to end malaria mortality by the end of 2020,’’ he said.

Adewole said government was on the verge of putting a new health policy for the country.

He  recalled that attempts had been made twice, in 1988 and 2004, respectively, to develop health policy for the nation.

“We want to make a statement that when we improve the health of the people, we can engender socio-economic development,’’ the minister said.

Fayemi said Nigeria is a mineral rich nation but not a mining nation.

He said the ugly trend was because the country abandoned mining in the better part of the last 40 years,  assuring that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to changing the trend with its economic diversification programme.

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