Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma
Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja
The Federal Government has appealed to the African Development Bank to fast-track the $1bn loan facility it promised as support for the implementation of Nigeria’s 2016 budget.
According to the government, the loan is expected to cover the 35 per cent shortfall in the budget.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, made the appeal in Abuja during a meeting with the AfDB team.
The minister, in a statement issued on Sunday by the Director of Information in the ministry, Mr. Adedeji Ajibade, was quoted to have said, “I want to thank you for the support. We value the relationship with the AfDB and we appreciate the budget support. We want the AfDB also to fast-track the loan facility. It is important to note that the AfDB is standing with us.”
Udoma, while giving an overview of the government’s plan to boost the economy and spend out of the current recession, said that the Federal Government was trying to contain the militancy in the Niger Delta as the development had negatively affected oil production.
He said the government was hoping to restore production to 2.2 million barrels per day at the end of the year.
The minister also stated that the government was committing funds to infrastructure development, processing of export zones and providing loans through the Central Bank of Nigeria at a single digit interest rate to support farming.
According to him, the Economic Recovery Plan of the government was designed to consolidate and harmonise all the sectoral plans in a single document and set out in broad details an integrated road map for the growth and sustainability of the country’s economy.
The ERP, he said, was also part of the commitment that the Federal Government made with Nigerians, whether there was a recession or not.
The Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, said what the government was doing differently concerning budget releases was that it had shifted from the old practice of releasing funds quarterly to specific requests, which were tied to projects.
Akabueze, according to the statement, said that so far, over N750bn had been released for capital projects and expressed the hope that revenue generation would improve in the second half of the year as the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Nigeria Customs Service would do better, having overcome some of the challenges faced in the first half of the year.
The statement noted that the AfDB team came to seek further clarifications on policy reforms and the level of budget implementation as touching on capital budget releases.
It stated that the team also requested the minister to highlight if there was any new policy introduced in the 2017 budget, as well as give updates on the Social Protection Policy of the Federal Government.”