From Uche Usim and Chiamaka Nzenweaku, Abuja
As Nigeria intensifies efforts to wriggle itself out of economic recession, Finance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun has said about N350 billion will be disbursed to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) next week, as capital project allocation for September.
Speaking at a media briefing in Abuja, Friday, the minister also revealed that the disbursement of N5,000 monthly stipend to poor/vulnerable Nigerians and feeding of pupils in the public primary schools will commence in earnest as part of the Buhari administration’s strategic social intervention programmes to quickly reflate the economy and put it on progress path.
Adeosun, however, noted that N60 billion out of the N350 billion will go into social welfare programmes. “With additional N350 billion billed for disbursement next week, the sum will push total amount of capital disbursement to MDAs to N770 billion out of N1.8 trillion capital allocation outlined in 2016 budget”, she said.
Accompanied by heads of agencies in the finance ministry, Adeosun explained that key projects in power, housing, transport, water, defence, agriculture and aviation will enjoy the lion share of the disbursement.
According to her, the rationale behind putting certain projects on the priority list was borne out of the belief that reviving the nation’s ailing economy entail re-directing expenditure to fund key infrastructure that will grow the economy.
Adeosun, while commending Nigerians for their patience and resilience in the face of the current economic crunch said that government was working hard to change the nation’s economy from consumption to a productive economy, even as she assured that government has what it takes to achieve the goal.
“We have a strategic plan that will take us out of the current recession. We are raising money. As you know, the Euro bond is on, we are about to appoint advisers. We are about raising additional $1billion. Two weeks ago, we approved the borrowing plan and that is very important as we will be borrowing the cheapest money first. We have approved the plan from World Bank, from AfDB with interest rates as low as 1percent and tenor as low as forty years. We are intervening in specific areas which include, agriculture , health, the railway project and these are very key to what we are doing. The issue with fiscal initiatives is that there is always a lag when you release money and when it has effect. What we are trying to do now is to see how we can shorten that lag, especially those delays in procurement process. We are working with the ministries and other agencies. As we always said, if we don’t go by open procurement, it will not give Nigerians equal opportunity.
“For instance, a ministry has a contract and nobody knows about it. They will only let it out to people they know. We are trying to get away from that culture and enthrone culture of transparency. We are working with the Bureau of Public Procurement ( BPP) to fast track the process to see how the money can quickly trickle down to the ordinary Nigerians”, she explained.
Adeosun added that the Buhari administration was committed to ending the current hadship.
“What we are looking at, we don’t think is going to be a long recession considering some of the initiatives we have put in place which will begin to bear fruits soon. And what are those initiatives? I have shared this with some my colleagues on FAAC. For example, this month for FAAC we only got N41 billion from oil and gas. We had to use N110 billion for funding of cash call. If we had that money we could have pumped that money in to the economy. We are working with the ministry of petroleum , with Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to get out from the cash call burden. Instead of taking money from federation account for JVC , the money, if spent on the economy will improve the money in circulation”, she said.