Udoma

Fed Govt releases N2.5tr from 2016 budget

The Federal Government has so far released N2.5 trillion from the N6.06 trillion 2016 budget, Minister of Budget and National Planing Udoma Udo Udoma has said.

With Udoma, who was answering questions from the Senate Committee on Appropriation yesterday, was Minister of Finance Mrs. Kemi Adeosun.

Mrs Adeosun said N753 billion was for capital projects; N117 billion went into statutory transfer.

She added that N135 billion was for service wide; N108 billion was for over head; consolidated pensions got N142 billion and personnel,  N1.2 trillion.

In her brief to the committee, Mrs. Adeosun said her ministry had discovered that some revenue generating agencies inflated their expenses just to fritter the funds away.

According to her, the agencies’ books revealed overbloated travel expenses, medical allowances and others that could not be justified.

She told the committee that many of the cases had been referred to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

She could however not give an update on the amount of loot recovered so far. Recoveries are being made daily, she said.

The minister explained the difficulties associated with recovery of looted funds stashed in foreign countries, particularly the United States, Switzerland and others.

“The process of recovering looted funds is an ongoing process. Money comes on daily basis. We have not recovered much from foreign countries. It is a little more difficult.”

She told the lawmakers that the government was waiting to finalise loan arrangements from the EXIM Bank in China for the rail project.

The minister revealed that over 700, 000 new companies had been brought into the tax net, stressing that the development would increase the country’s revenue considerably.

Mrs. Adeosun said: “Right now, we are not seeing the numbers but we believe that revenue collection is a function of data. And as far as they are getting more and more companies into the net, as the economy improves, our tax revenues will improve and we will be less dependent on oil, which is one of our stated objectives.

“All the local borrowing has been undertaken in the local market and we have been utilising that money. The foreign borrowing, we had anticipated towards the second and third quarters of the year. The China-Exim funding, we are waiting for the finalisation of the contract agreement on the rail because those are project-tied.

“The budget support which we are applying to the African Development Bank for, we have completed negotiations this month and we are expecting to complete that transaction this coming month.

“The Eurobond, we have finished the procurement process for the advisers. We are waiting for No Objection Certificate from the BPP. We hope to get that within a week or so and going out to the market and close that before the end of the year.

“The international markets are quite favourable at the moment for borrowing. The rates are low, many jurisdictions actually have negative interest rate. So, there has been quite a lot of anticipation of the Nigerian Eurobond offer.

“We continue to emphasise that these borrowings are for capital projects and we are expecting that those projects will help us increase our revenues to enable us to pay back. We are being very prudent with our debt strategy.”

The Chairman of Appropriation Committee, Senator Danjuma Goje, was satisfied with the implementation of the 2016 budget so far.

He, however, expressed concern on the possibility of the country securing these loans.

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