*N177bn released to oil marketers
By James Emejo in Abuja
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, disclosed Thursday that a total sum of N820.57 billion had been released for capital projects in the 2018 Budget as at December 14, 2018.
But the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, explained that a total of N1.1 trillion would have been released for the implementation of capital projects across the country by the end of December.
Both spoke at the breakdown of the 2019 budget proposal, in Abuja
The Finance Minister said, “Let me first of all say that the N820 billion that has been released is just MDAs’ (Ministries, Departments and Agencies’) capital because we have releases also that go to the statutory transfer agencies that is released to them in block and that amount includes both their personal recurrent as well as capital.
“There is also capital releases that are done as part of the capital supplementation that is to say it’s service-wide that is not in the N820 billion,” she said.
“The N820 billion is 43 per cent of MDAs capital; we are working to push this to N1.1 trillion by the end of December and that would be including the statutory transfers, the service wide as well as the rest of the MDAs whose capital we are currently processing.”
On why the Excess Crude Account (ECA) had been depleted by about $1.68 billion in the last three weeks, she said that the withdrawal reflected from the $1 billion approved for security operations in the North-east.
She said: “If you recall that the NEC (National Economic Council) had authorised the use of $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account for security; so the performance of that instruction is what has produced what we have in the Excess Crude Account
“So it’s been largely depleted but we are still saving to it and this is the third month that we have been saving consistently into the Excess Crude Account,” she said.
On the outstanding the fuel subsidy claims owed oil marketers, the finance minister said the sum of N177 billion had been released to them, adding that before the end of this year, another tranche would be disbursed.
Speaking further on capital expenditure, Udoma explained that spending on capital had been prioritised in favour of critical ongoing infrastructure projects in the power, roads, rail and agriculture sectors.
He said the implementation of the 2018 capital budget will continue into 2019 until the 2019 budget is passed into law.
Nevertheless, he said as at the end of the third quarter of the year, the federal government’s actual aggregate revenue was N2.84 trillion, which was 40 per cent higher that of 2017.