Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has achieved 50 percent budget performance in 2019 with the release of N1.2 trillion capital expenditure.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, made the disclosure at the end of the seven-hours plus Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu.
The meeting was for ministers to give account of the mandate of their stewardship.
The meeting was devoted largely to three ministries which gave account of their stewardship in the first 100 days of the administration.
The ministers were sworn on August 21.
According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who briefed State House correspondents, the Ministries of Petroleum Resources, Transportation and Finance, Budget and National Planning gave account of their stewardship in the last FEC meeting of the year.
Speaking more on her ministry’s performance, Ahmed said the ministry reported on the 100 days performance to council.
She said: “The Ministry Finance, Budget and National Planning has 11 mandate areas. First of all in terms of revenue performance, the revenue performance curated to third quarter of 2019 is N4.25 trillion and that represents a performance of 81 percent, that is nine months curated not fully year.
“The GDP that we planned for 2019 was 3.5 percent and the third quarter GDP reported as 2.28 percent.
“On expenditure, we have been able to release all that is required for personnel, so the personnel services is on course and debts services is also on course.
“On overheads, we have been able to release eight months for general ministries, department and agencies (MDAs) and 11 months for some MDAs classified as critical and we are working on the 12th month. These include the security service, Federal Government unity colleges as well as the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and the prisons.
“So far as at last week, we have released N1.2 trillion in capital expenditure and that is 50 percent performance for the whole year 2019. And now that Mr. President has assented to the 2020 budget which is a major achievement for this government, it is clear that the 2019 budget is also a six-month budget. So, we have achieved 50 percent capital release for a 50 percent performance of the 2019 budget.
“We have also been able to pass through the National Assembly the Finance Bill of 2019, I believe by tomorrow (Thursday), the bill will be transmitted to Mr. President for his assent.
“We have started the process of the new long-term development plan, we prepared a road map, it is going to be subjected to various stakeholder reviews before we start the actual planning process.”
Minister of State Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, said on their inauguration, they were given mandate areas.
According to him, “the ministry of petroleum had nine mandate areas. Today, we reported to council that we have achieved at least one of those mandate areas, which is the passage of the deep offshore amendment act. We also reported that work is ongoing on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and that hopefully it will be passed into law in June next year.
“We also reported that next year, we will open the gas sector and a lot will happen in the gas sector in Nigeria. Rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery will commence in January and hopefully 2020 will be a very busy year for the oil industry in Nigeria.”
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi, hinted that based on the president’s itinerary, the Itakpe-Warri line may be commissioned in January 2020.
He said: “The essence of the mandates is to monitor performance and achievements and if you don’t meet your target, you run into trouble.
“For us, the mandate was essentially more on the side of railways, even though there are others in maritime.
“On railways, we confirmed to the President that we’ll be bringing in a DMU, which is diesel engine for Abuja-Kaduna. It will be eight coaches and two locomotives that will drive them. This is to reduce the pressure we have on the Abuja-Kaduna route.
“Like I said before, we provided coaches for only 300 passengers because that’s what the experts told us when we did the research, but now we are carrying 3,700 passengers; we are increasing the number of coaches everyday.
“We believe that the President will commission eight new coaches and two new locomotives this January to carry passengers from Abuja to Kaduna and Kaduna back to Abuja.
“We also reported that we’ll be ready to commission Itakpe to Warri between January and April, depending on when the President will be available for it. I don’t know how many of you saw a tweet I sent about about Agbor at night. Everywhere is ready; accommodations, workshop, stations, yard, everything, very beautiful. I can remember someone in Britain asking if it was in Nigeria and I told him it’s in Agbor village.
“We also reported that we believe that Lagos to Ibadan should also be ready for commissioning before April, if the President’s will permit it.
“We’ve commenced trial-run on Lagos to Ibadan. The last time before tomorrow, we ran from Iju to Ibadan, by tomorrow we’ll start running from Agege to Ibadan. By the time we return from the holidays, we’ll be running from Ebute-Meta to Ibadan.
“We believe that we should have got to the seaport before April, this should reduce what you call the Apapa gridlock. We are finding solution to the Apapa gridlock.
“We also expect the China Exim Bank to approve the loan for Ibadan to Kano in January, if they do, we expect that work should commence on Ibadan to Kano railway route in January or February next year.
“We’ll also put one DMU of right coaches and two locomotives on the Ibadan-Lagos this January to convey passengers free of charge till April when the President will commission the project.
“In maritime, we reported that we have almost completed the purchase of equipment for maritime security, the one they call deep blue sea. That will enhance the security of the waters and reduce all these kidnapping and other insecurity in the waters.”
The next FEC meeting will likely hold on January 22, 2020 as the next three FEC meeting days fall on Christmas Day (December 25), New Year Day (January 1, 2020) and the Armed Forces Remembrance Day (January 15).