FG to Spend N350bn Releases to Fund Budget


Emma Okonji

Amid complaints that Nigerians are not feeling the impact of the economic policies of the present administration, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has assured the public that the federal government is bent on revamping the Nigerian economy through its policies designed to diversify the economy.

Osinbajo, who spoke at the Policy Dialogue Forum on the economy at the 22nd Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja yesterday, said there was need for government to inject more money into circulation to cushion the effects of the recession, and one of the ways through which government could achieve it is to inject the expected N350 billion that was looted by past governments into the Nigerian economy to fund the budget.

Although he said not all the money had been recovered, he explained that the amount already in the government coffers would be used to fund the budget.

“A good percentage of the stolen monies has been recovered, and we are still expecting about $400 million from the US and about $300 million from Switzerland.

“By the time all these monies are recovered, we will surely inject them into circulation to support budget funding,” Osinbajo said.

President Muhammadu Buhari who declared the summit open, with the theme “Made in Nigeria” insisted on the need to diversify the Nigerian economy in order to make Nigeria less dependent on oil.

“As I have said in the past, we need to diversify the economy so that we will never again have to rely on one commodity to survive as a country.

“So that we can produce the food we eat, make our own textiles, produce most of the things we use and create the right environment for our young ones to be able to benefit and create jobs through technology.

“These have been the commitment and mandate of this administration and I have remained focused on them since the assumption of this administration,” Buhari said.

The president added that there was clearly no better way to achieve this without building on the economic foundation of “Made in Nigeria” goods and services.

“Fortunately, we have champions of ‘Made in Nigeria’ goods and services that have defied the odds over the years to produce locally developed products and contributed to our economy,” Buhari added.

“Initiative and incentives that will enhance ‘Made in Nigeria’ are already being put in place by this administration, and I encourage more local production to improve the ease of doing business in our environment, transfer our technology and innovative capabilities, improve quality and standards, promote exports and change our old attitude and behaviour,” Buhari said.

He said his greatest desire was to see Nigeria move from being import-dependent to achieving self-sufficiency in local production and become an export-led economy in goods and services.
“I strongly believe that this summit will bring all stakeholders on board to stay on the course,” he added.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, said the present government was doing so much to put Nigeria on the right path through its economic policies, but expressed concern that Nigerians were yet to feel its impact.

He promised to use his office to engage Nigerians more on the social media on the activities of government to enable them have a feel of government activities and how such activities are designed to strengthen the Nigerian economy and make life easy for them.

Giving details on what government is doing in diversifying the economy in the area of agriculture, Osinbajo said: “Government is investing heavily in rice production in 12 states where rice production has grown from 3.5 tonnes per annum to 7.5 tonnes per annum in less than one year.”

He said there was need to support the private sector through credit facilities at low interest rates, adding that this is meant to inject more money into circulation.