A desperate Federal Government has asked the African Development (AfDB) to quicken the processing of the $1 billion loan facility it requires to fiancé a gaping 35 per cent funding shortfall for the 2016 budget.
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, who made the appeal in Abuja, during a meeting with AfDB team, at the weekend, said: “I want to thank you for the support. We value the relationship with AfDB and we appreciate the budget support. We want AfDB also to fast-track the loan facility. What is important to note is that AfDB is standing with us.’’
While giving overview of the government’s plan to reflate the economy and spend out of the recession, Udoma said government was trying to contain the militancy in the Niger–Delta, which had affected oil production in the country, hoping to restore production to 2.2 million barrels a day at the end of the year.
The Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) said, last week, that Nigeria was not able to benefit from rising oil prices as a result of militancy in the Niger-Delta, which resulted in the loss of one million barrels in June.
The minister then explained that government was committing money into infrastructure development, processing of export zones and also providing loans through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at a single digit to support farming in Nigeria.
According to the him, “The Economic Recovery Plan was designed to consolidate and harmonise all the sectoral plans in a single document and set out in broad detail an integrated road map for the growth and sustainability of the country’s economy, and is also a part of the commitment the Federal Government made with Nigerians, whether there was a recession or not.”
Also speaking at the meeting, the Director-General of the Budget Office, Mr Ben Akabueze, said what government was doing differently concerning budget releases was shifting from the old practice of releasing monies quarterly, but on specific request, which were tied to projects.
Akabueze said, so far, over N750 billion had been released for capital projects and expressed hope that revenue would improve in the second half of the year as the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Customs would do better having overcome some of the challenges faced in the first half of the year.
Although, a large chunk of this amount was yet to get to contractors due to alleged delays by cumbersome procurement process, which the executive said it would approach the National Assembly for power to circumvent some of the legalities.
Speaking earlier, AfDB’s acting Director for Governance and Reform, Mr Coulibaly, who led the team, said he was in Nigeria to seek further clarification on policy reforms and level of budget implementation as it touched capital budget releases.
He also stated that they wanted the minister to highlight if there was any new policy introduced in the 2017 budget and updates on the Social Protection Policy.