By Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, has urged the African Development Bank (AfDB) to fast-track the disbursement of the one billion dollar budget support facility it promised the country.
The pan-African bank had recently promised to extend a billion dollar loan support facility for the 2016 budget.
The loan is expected to cover the 35 per cent shortfall in the 2016 budget.
Udoma, who made the appeal in Abuja at a meeting withan AfDB team at the weekend, thanked the bank for its support.
“I want to thank you for the support. We value the relationship with ADB and we appreciate the budget support. We want AfDB also to fast track the loan facility. Important to note, is that AfDB is standing with us,’’ Udoma said according to a statement issued by the Director (Information) in his ministry, Mr. AdedejiAjibade
Giving an overview of the government’s plan to reflate the economy and come out of recession, the ministerstated that the federal government was trying to contain the militancy in the Niger Delta region which has affected oil production in the country,.
According to him, with the containment of militancy, the government was hopeful of restoring oil production to 2.2 million barrels a day, at the end of the year.
He also stated that the government was committing money into infrastructure development, processing of export zones, as well as providing loans through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at a single digit to support farming in Nigeria.
According to the minister, the Economic Recovery Plan was designed to consolidate and harmonise all the sectoral plans in a single document and set out in broad detail an integrated roadmap for the growth and sustainability of the country’s economy.
He noted that it was also a part of the commitment the federal government made to Nigerians, irrespective of whether there was a recession or not.
In his remarks at the meeting, the Director General of the Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze stated that what the present government is doing differently concerning budget releases was shifting from the old practice of releasing monies quarterly.
H noted releases are now based on specific requests which are tied to projects.
Akabueze stated that so far, over N750 billion had been released for capital projects, adding that it was hoped that revenue would improve in the second half of the year as the Federal Inland Revenue Service, (FIRS) and the Nigeria Customs Service will do better, having overcome some of challenges they faced in the first half of the year.
AfDB’s Acting Director for Governance and Reform,Coulibaly, in his remarks, said his team came to seek further clarification on policy reforms, level of budget implementation vis-à-vis capital budget releases .
He also stated that they had come on a fact-findingmission on whether or not the administration would introduce a new policy in the 2017 budget as well as the social protection policy.