Recession: FG won’t recall 2021 budget ― Minister
• FEC okays N31.6bn road, ecological projects contracts
Despite the country sliding into recession and pressure to tinker with its fiscal policies, the Federal Government will not retrieve or adjust the 2021 budget now being considered in the National Assembly.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, gave this indication in Abuja while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), on Wednesday.
She also assured that the nation will exit the recession in the last quarter of this year or first quarter of 2021 at the most.
When asked about the possibility of making changes to the budget because of the recession, she said: “On the 2021 Budget, we are not planning to retrieve the budget or to reverse the budget beyond the work of appropriation that the National Assembly is currently doing in consultation with us.”
The minister said despite the recession, key sectors of the economy have performed well, attributing it to the policies being implemented by the federal government.
She noted that the Economic Sustainability Programme (ESP) of government, is on course to help the country to exit the latest recession.
Ahmed stated: “The steps that were taken were a vigorous implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan. You will recall that the ESP was designed to be a 12 months plan, to act as a bridge between the (Economic Recovery and Growth Plan) ERGP and its successor plan, but also it was designed specifically to help us quickly exit recession, which we had projected was going to happen.
“So, the ESP implementation is really on course, it’s focused and also the implementation of the 2020 Budget is really on course and is very focused.
“We have been able to release a large volume of capital funding into ministries, departments and agencies, enabling a lot of public works going on simultaneously all over the country.
“So, how we will maintain this is to make sure we continue to implement the ESP as it is planned. It will help us exit recession, it will help us reset back on the path of growth and on a road that is sustainable.”
The minister also said that there is no issue with the payment of Federal Government workers salaries, which has been up to date, noting however that only agencies on Government Integrated Financial Management and Information System (GIFMIS), which have exhausted their funding are in the process of making adjustments.
She explained: “On the issue of federal workers’ salary, there’s no issue with federal workers’ salary. We have paid salaries for November and we shall pay salaries for December so there’s no issue at all with federal workers’ salary.
“If you hear about any issue, it is for agencies whose budgets funding on the GIFMIS (Government Integrated Financial Management and Information System) was exhausted and we are about to make an adjustment to them.
“When we were doing the 2020 Budget, we made estimates of the consequential adjustment that is required as a result of the minimum wage and we had sent the budget before a decision and approval was taken on the consequential adjustment.
“So, it is anticipated that some agencies might run short and we made a block provision in the service-wide vote of the budget.
“So, when we have such a situation, what we simply do is remove fund from the service-wide vote to the agency so that they pay their budget. So, there’s no problem with the payment of salaries at all.”
The FEC presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari also gave approval for the award of contracts for emergency procurement of first and second quarters 2020 soil erosion/flood and pollution control accelerated intervention projects in favour of various contractors in the sum of N17.754,717,234.41 inclusive of 7.5 per cent VAT with various completion/delivery periods.
Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity), Femi Adesina, gave the detail of the contracts, spreading across the various state of the federation.
They include Gully erosion and control along Ndam/Agbor road, Nnobi and Alor towns in Idemili/South LGA, Phase two, Anambra State (to Telesis Limited) N.495,878,764 – 18 months; Erosion and flood menace beside Yem Kem House along Oye-Ifaki road, Oye LGA (Strabic Construction Ltd.), N792,311,211.11 – nine months; and Somolu/Bariga LGA/ Akoka/Ilaje community, Akoka-Lagos flood and erosion control project, Lagos State (Partibon Services Ltd.) N1.786,146,630.98 – 10 months.
Others are Gully erosion control at Egbo-Ideh community, Ugheli South LGA, Delta State (Harris & Dome Nigeria Ltd.) N1,328,306,924.00 – 24 months; Gully erosion control and road improvement work in Darazo LGA, Bauchi State (Powerhill Construction Ltd.) N3,897,577,627.79 – 24 months and Gully erosion control work at Ladanal community, Nasarawa LGA, Kano State (U.Y.K. Nigeria Ltd.) N1,337,681,584.69 – eight months.
The devastating effect of gully erosion in Gboko township, Benue State (Gaffar Worldwide Resources Ltd.) N1.503,970.714.83 – 12 months; Erosion and flood control works in Wase and Bashar towns, Wase LGA, Plateau State (Global Legend Integrated Concept Ltd.) N1,687,162,328.95 – 14 months.
Also awarded are Gully erosion control and road improvement works along with Plot 1398, off Kainji Crescent and Katampe Extension, FCT, Abuja (IMB Corporate Synergy Ltd.) N555,569,610.76 – six months; and Soil erosion, River channelisation and slope protection within Maitama District (Phase II, FCT, Abuja (Masarki Nigeria Ltd.) N1,887,495,486.63 – 12 months;
The rests are Supply and installation of 12 nos. on site flameless/smell-less incinerator (50kg/he) for the national blood transfusion centres in some federal medical centres and teaching hospitals (Black Wheel Multi-Links Ltd.) N823.677,900.00 – six months, and Supply and installation of six numbers containerised incinerators (250kg/her) for the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) one in each geo-political zone (STJ Integrated Resources Ltd.) N658,938,450.00 – six months.
In his remark at the briefing, Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, denied connection with the N4.6 billion fraud alleged to have been perpetrated during his time as the minister of power, works and housing.
Asked to clarify the allegations linking him to the alleged transfer of the money into private accounts, he said: “I have issued a written response to that irresponsible publication. And anybody who cares to know will know that ministers don’t manage accounts and finances of ministries.
“The people who do so Directors of Finance and Account who are staff of the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation. Ministers don’t sign cheques. We don’t disburse cash. We don’t manage cash.”
He said he presented a memo on behalf of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) for the approval of three road projects for the agency.
Fashola stated: “So, those three presented and approved by council today was for Gasamu-Hamshi-Gogoram road in Yobe State for N14.528billion to MotherCat, the link road connecting Uneme-Tusamu-Odoga to Okpekpe in Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State for N991.851million, and Mamabu Donga Local Government Area road in Taraba South Local Government Area of Taraba State to Wishchina Engineering Limited for N6.397 billion.
“These are the late third quarter, early fourth quarter interventions to respond to the COVID-19 impact on the economy.”
Recession: FG won’t recall 2021 budget ― Minister