• Monday, May 27, 2024
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N333.81bn spent from ECA Q1, says CBN

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About N333.81 billion was withdrawn from the excess crude account (ECA) and shared among the three federating units between January and March, 2013.

The money was used to augment shortfalls in their monthly allocations for the period.

Out of the sum, the Federal Government received N152.99 billion; states, N77.60 billion and local governments got N59.83 billion, figures from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) show.

This is in addition to the N1.366 trillion from the federation account also distributed among the three tiers of government and the 13 percent derivation fund for oil producing states. About N178.12 billion was also shared among them from the VAT pool account.

Consistent sharing of funds from the excess crude account (ECA) has virtually left the country without fiscal savings and this has been a source of concern.

The account stood at $7 billion as at last month, having dropped from about $9 billion earlier in the month.

The government, however, said it is committed to keeping the account strong to serve as buffer against economic shocks.

The coordinating minister for the economy and minister of finance, Okonjo-Iweala, had said last year that the target was to build up the account to at least $10 billion before the end of 2012.

The minister is also concerned about the clamour to consistently share monies from the account and canvasses that the account be allowed to accrue.

“…there is global uncertainty and that is why we have been shouting about integrity and maintaining the excess crude account and keeping it strong because we think that in any of these shocks, we have an instrument to use and it should be kept sound”, she had stressed recently.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also advised Nigeria strongly against depleting its ECA especially at this time of global economic challenges coupled with declining oil prices.

Just last week, Scott Rogers, IMF senior resident representative in Nigeria, had said even though government is again trying to rebuild its fiscal buffers in recent times, the levels are still below that before 2008 crisis and that more should be done.

Rogers noted that a stronger outlook for Nigeria in 2013 would largely depend on sustained accumulation of reserves and building the excess crude account (ECA).

But his major concern is that building the ECA had been practically impossible in the past due to indiscriminate withdrawals from the account.

Meanwhile, the economy expanded an estimated 6.6 percent in the first quarter of the year, the central bank said, citing figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Growth in the country compared with 6.9 percent in the previous three months, the bank said in a May 8 report on its website. It attributed the slower growth largely “to the decline in the contribution of the non-oil sector.”

ONYINYE NWACHUKWU, Abuja