Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The 100th National Economic Council (NEC), the last for the year, presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo is considering utilizing close to N2 trillion of Contributory Pensions Fund on infrastructure development in the country.
It said following the success
This will be done through the Sovereign Investment Authority.
The total assets under the Contributory Pension Scheme rose to N9.58 trillion as of the end of September, according to the National Pension Commission.
The Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, who briefed State House Correspondents on the deliberations at NEC, said government intends to follow the footsteps of other countries, including South Africa and Saudi Arabia, that have used a portion of their pensions on infrastructure development
Bagudu said a sub-committee of NEC presented an interim report on the proposal, where they reported and identified potential road infrastructure, infrastructure in the power, rail sectors that can be funded through this mechanism.
The NEC which comprises state governors, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Minister of Finance/Budget/National Planning and other stakeholders in attendance, after reviewing the interim report, called for the submission of the final report in January, 2020.
Bagudu, stated that under the Pensions Reform Act, up to 20 percent of the fund is allowed to be invested on infrastructure.
For instance, he said the sub-committee observed that only N169 billion was provided for roads in the 2019 budget, an amount described as “grossly inadequate.”
He spoke further, “So, the committee, in its report, identified potential road infrastructure, infrastructure in the power, rail sectors that can be funded through this mechanism.
“They noted that this year’s budget for example has N169 billion for roads across the Federation, which is grossly inadequate.
“But with this mechanism, maybe up to N2 trillion can be accessed and leveraged upon.
“The NEC commended the committee for the interim report and the sub-committee promised that early next year, there will be a final report for the NEC to consider.”
Another sub-committee of NEC chaired by the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, also submitted an interim report.
The committee was mandated at the 99th NEC meeting to investigate the ownership structure of power Distribution Companies in Nigeria.
Bagudu explained: “You will recall also that at the 99th NEC meeting, NEC discussed that since the privatisation of the DisCos, that at least 40 per cent that was meant to be for the state governments and federal government have not been so distributed.
“Therefore, a committee was set up to review the status/ownership of those shares that have not been distributed and report back to NEC. The committee is chaired by the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, with six other governors, some ministers, including the minister of finance and some agencies.
“They presented an interim report that they are meeting soon to review the various information provided by the various agencies, then they will brief the counsel further.”
The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, reported to NEC the balance in some key government accounts.
She stated, “For the Excess Crude Account, as of 19th November, 2019, we had a balance of $324,967,933.72.
“In the Stabilisation Account, as of 17th of December, 2019, we had a balance of N30, 479, 704,808.
“In the Natural Resource Fund, still at the same date, 17th of December, 2019, we had the balance of N88,283,218,114.40.”
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on his part said the NEC meeting reviewed the security situation of the country and concluded that security had improved “generally” across the country.
He said the NEC sub-committee on security presented the report on security situation to the session.
The committee is chaired by the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Femi.
According to Sanwo-Olu, the Fayemi committee, which has the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, and other heads of security agencies as members, reported that there was a reduction in proliferation of small arms as a result of the closure of the country’s land borders.
The committee also reported that were advised to set up on zonal basis, security trust funds to help address security challenges.
“Community policing is also important as a means of engaging our youths and reducing youth unemployment in the country.”