*Adeosun explains high cost of food items
Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun revealed on Friday that her ministry has been mandated to manage assets recovered from treasury looters, lamenting that some of the recovered items were mind-boggling.
Besides over N115 billion in local and foreign currencies, the federal government had disclosed recently that it recovered 183 buildings, and five vessels, among others, from looters.
Adeosun, who said she would soon allow journalists take a look at some of the recovered assets, including a collection of very expensive jewellery, noted that if the current war against corruption is sustained, in addition to other cost-cutting measures being implemented by the present administration, the nation would swim out of recession earlier than envisaged.
The minister spoke at her maiden interactive session with finance correspondents in Abuja where she also gave an insight into why the prices of food items are hitting the rooftops.
According to her, the past administration defaulted in paying suppliers of fertiliser, who consequently failed to supply the items to farmers in the last farming season.
The development, she said, made farmers not to apply fertilisers on their crops leading to low yield and the attendant scarcity of food items, which pushed prices up.
She, however, disclosed that the current administration had already addressed the situation by paying the fertiliser suppliers, adding that farmers were availed of the product during this year’s planting season, which would culminate in better yield and lower food prices.
Adeosun said in order to preserve produce from this year’s harvest, the government is embarking on the construction of silos, as part of measures being put in place to avoid loss of harvest.
The minister, who also spoke on disbursements in the 2016 Budget said N60 billion will soon be released, adding that this would raise funds already released by the government to N400 billion since May.
According to her, some contractors who had not been paid since 2012 had been motivated to return to work, adding that the nation would soon begin to feel the impact of the administration’s efforts and policies.
Adeosun stated that the administration had begun renegotiating public-private partnership (PPP) projects, noting that the private sector money was highly needed.
“So far, we have spent N400 billion on capital, that is between May when the budget was signed and now; we are going for another capital allocation meeting where we are going to allocate another N60 billion.
“We are pumping money into the economy at a very rapid rate, but it would take a little time for the effect to be felt,” she stated, noting that for the country to make serious progress, a whole-hearted fight against corruption was imperative while massive infrastructure development was required
“Fighting corruption is fundamental and if we stick with that and all the money stolen or diverted is directed at projects that could grow the economy, we would recover,’’ she said.
On why funds recovered under the Treasury Single Account (TSA) arrangement cannot be appropriated and spent by the federal government, she said the funds belonged to ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and tied to specific items, which cannot be diverted and spent by the government without creating problems.