THE National Economic Council (NEC) on Thursday resolved to audit the Ecological Fund and has consequently, set up and ad-hoc committee for the purpose.
The committee comprises Oyo, Borno, Imo, Kaduna, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Benue state governor and Ministers of Finance and Environment.
It is to come up with recommendations on how to manage the fund.
The decision to audit the fund followed a briefing received by the council from the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF).
He had told the council that the Natural Resources Fund balance as at 31st of March 2017 was N70.9 billion while the Ecological Fund balance as at 31st March 2017 was N33.645 billion.
Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting, Plateau State
Governor, Simon Lalong, who was flanked by his Anambra State counterpart,
Willie Obiano and the National Security Adviser, Babagana Mongunu, said it had become imperative to audit the account since the account was being depleted even when there has been no disbursement to states.
He said: “No state has been given the fund in the last two years,” adding that in the last administration the money was released based on political loyalty but now due process has to be followed.
Council also resolved that states and local governments will now keep their share of Resources Fund and Ecological Fund for use as intervention as the need arises in their respective jurisdictions.
NEC also received briefing from the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, on plans to commence disbursement of the second tranche of the Paris-London Club refund to states.
Lalong, who thanked the federal government for precious releases, said however that the federal government is not doing the states a favour by
releasing the money but returning what originally belonged to them.
Adeosun reported to NEC on the Excess Crude Account (ECA) and the Efficiency Unit which is domiciled in the Ministry of Finance.
According to her, the ECA stands at $2.2billion while the operations of the efficiency unit have been able to save the country a whopping N17billion since it was established in November 2015.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who chaired the meeting, briefed the council on the progress of
four of the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) of the Administration, namely: N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfer, Homegrown School Feeding Programme and the Government Economic and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), for micro –credit.
He also briefed them about on the causes of delay in implementation of the programme as noticed
in the Federal/States Government’s collaboration and resolved to end such obstacles to the successful implementation of the SIPs.
The Minister of Health Isaac Adewole briefed on the handling of the recent Meningitis Outbreak which has seen the death of 9,646 in six states in the country including Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Niger, Kebbi, and Kaduna.
According to Obiano who briefed newsmen on the matter, the minister told the council that about N46.7 billion is required to vaccinate the valuable population.
The National Security Adviser (NSA) briefed Council on the security situation in the country, especially on the conflict between armed herdsmen and farmers, especially in Kaduna, Taraba and Benue States among others.