Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
Total releases for this year’s capital budget yesterday rose to N1.01 trillion as the Federal Government announced the release of another N300 billion for the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter release, which represents 75 per cent of the total capital budget of N1.3 trillion, according the Ministry Finance, is to ensure that the momentum on capital budget implementation is maintained as the year comes to a close.
The latest release is coming amid criticisms by the National Assembly that the implementation of the budget, which effectively commenced in April, is low.
The ministry, in a statement issued by Mr. Paul Nwbuikwu, Senior Special Assistant to the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, noted that the impact of budget implementation can be gleaned from improvements in various sectors of the economy, including power, agriculture, job creation, transportation, and ports reforms.
Power supply in many parts of the country, the ministry pointed out, “has improved to a consistent level of 15 hours per day” even as it stated that rehabilitation of existing power infrastructure has yielded up to 1000 megawatts of additional electricity.
“NIPP projects are being fast tracked which will lead to an additional 1055 megawatts by end 2012. The prospects for progress in power supply have increased significantly with the imminent conclusion of the privatisation programme,” the statement said.
On agriculture, it affirmed that in pursuit of the 3.5 million jobs target by 2015, 13 new private sector rice mills with a capacity of 240,000 metric tonnes have been established even as one million metric tonnes of dried cassava chips are exported to China.
It also stated that the railway modernisation programme is progressing with the Abuja-Kaduna line is now at 46 per cent completion while the rehabilitation of Lagos-Kano and Lagos-Ibadan lines has opened up new platforms for passenger traffic.
Giving an insight into how the implementation of the 2012 Budget has rubbed off positively on ports reforms, the ministry stated that the clearance time for cargoes in the ports has been reduced from 39 days to seven days.
On job creation drive, the ministry said the Community Services, Women and Youth Employment Programme components of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), which was inaugurated in February 2012 are already working in 14 states.
The target is to create 370,000 jobs per year.