• Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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Buhari, others spent N64bn on foreign trips in 2015 – Adeosun “The Minister of Finance, Mrs.Kemi Adeosun yesterday  informed members of the House of Representatives that the               federal government spent N64 billion on foreign trips.

The minister, who addressed the lawmakers at a plenary session on the on-going sectoral debates on how to diversify the economy, said government was trying to reduce the huge                amount of money being spent on foreign trips on government officials. She revealed that government spent N4 billion yearly on rent, pointing out that they would turn all their agencies that deal with rent to recovery agencies.

The minister disclosed that government inherited N60 billion as a result of fertiliser supplied and were not paid for. Adeosun lamented that while N165 billion was being spent monthly on personnel cost, N18 billion had been spent on road construction thus far. She said in view of the dwindling economy, government had started growing the non-oil sector of the economy, adding that the country could not continue relying on oil proceeds. The minister hinted that over 99.6 percent of what government agencies generate was spent, stressing that what they were doing at the moment was to block unnecessary spending and wastages. While saying they were trying to control these government agencies to really know how much they generate, Adeosun admitted that they do not know the true size of government revenue.

She wondered why some of the oil companies they pay subsidy were not paying tax to the Federal Inland Revenue Service, (FIRS). On capital projects, the minister assured the lawmakers that they would invest more on power, housing, transport and roads. Adeosun, however, expressed optimism that investing in capital projects would drive industrialisation and grow the economy. She further disclosed that government was trying to reduce the counterpart funding to states from 50 percent to 10 percent. The minister noted that they were cleaning up the pension reform in order to ensure that as people retire, they get their pension as at when due” – Nigerian Pilot.

FG can’t guarantee full budget implementation — Finance Minister
“The Minister of Finance, Mrs.KemiAdeosun, 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” – Punch.

 

 J.K. Randle, OFR, FCA