Nigeria to release N1.1 trillion for 2018 capital projects
December 20, 2018 (AltAfrica)-The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Thursday said a total sum of N1.1 trillion would have been released for the implementation of capital projects across the country by the end of December.
This is as the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, also disclosed that a total sum of N820.57 billion had been released for capital projects as at December 14, 2018.
Both spoke at the breakdown of 2019 budget proposal.
Ahmed said: “Let me first of all say that the N820 billion that has been released is just MDAs 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.
“The N820 billion is 43 per cent of MDA 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 on 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 oil account.”
Pertaining to the fuel subsidy owed oil marketers, the finance minister said the sum of N177 billion had been released to marketers, adding that before the end of this year, another tranche would be disbursed.
Meanwhile, Udoma further explained that spending on capital had been prioritised in favour of critical ongoing infrastructural 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 than 2017 revenue.
He said the oil revenue stood at N1.51 trillion, which was 101 per cent higher than the 2017 estimates, while the Company Income Tax (CIT) was N500.37 billion.
He said the sum of N100.37 billion was collected as Value-Added Tax (VAT), while the Customs collections totalled N229.62 billion.
The minister said the overall revenue performance was only 53 per cent of the target in the 2018 Budget “largely because some one-off items such as the N710 billion from Oil Joint Venture Asset restructuring are yet to be actualised and have been rolled over to 2019”.
He noted that of the total appropriation of N9.12 trillion, N4.59 trillion had been spent as at September 30, 2018 against the prorated expenditure target of N6.84 trillion, representing 67 per cent performance.
He said debt service and the implementation of non-debt recurrent expenditure, notably payment of workers’ salaries and pensions were on track.
He further emphasised that provision had been made for the proposed new minimum wage in the 2019 Budget.
Udoma added that a high-powered technical committee has also been set up to advise on ways to ensure that the attendant wage adjustments for those already over the minimum wage can be funded without increasing the level of borrowing.
The committee will also advise on how to implement the consequential adjustments in such a manner as to minimise their inflationary impact.
He said the recommendations of the committee will be captured in the Finance Bill to be presented to the National Assembly together with the Minimum Wage Bill.
Among other key initiatives of the present administration, he said President Muhammadu Buhari had directed that immediate action be commenced to restructure the Joint Venture Oil Assets so as to reduce government shareholding to 40 per cent and that the exercise must be completed within the 2019 fiscal year.
According to him, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) will within three months, complete the collection of past-due oil licence and royalty charges.
He emphasised that following the president’s directive, the Ministry of Finance, working with all the relevant authorities, had been authorised to take action to liquidate all recovered, unencumbered assets within six months.
He said given the improved oil prices and production levels, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is to immediately commence the recovery of all outstanding obligations, including those due from Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) (a subsidiary of NNPC), which it had agreed to pay since 2017.
Also speaking at the budget breakdown, the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Babatunde Fowler, said several MDAs are currently owing taxes to government, adding that some had commenced payments in instalment.
He said: ”He said in terms of MDAs that are owing taxes, we still have a lot of MDAs that are owing taxes before 2015 and with the help of the presidency and the ministry finance they have come forward with an instalmental payment plan.
“The question was asked why the money was deducted from the current budget allocations is because they have to continue to run and perform their services and they are limited as to how much can be deducted at once and that being said, a number of them have requested to pay over 46 years. That shows the amount of revenue that was not remitted prior to 2015.”