Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma disclosed yesterday that funding constraints was responsible for the Federal Government’s inability to carry out a lot of its good plans captured in the 2016 budget.
They stated this at the 22nd edition of the Nigeria Economy Summit held in Abuja yesterday, shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari expressed the determination of the Federal Government to focus more on the production of made in Nigeria goods and services, for the nation to survive.
The president urged participants “to come out with enforceable recommendations on policies, initiatives and incentives that will enhance our works as we are already doing in this administration.” he said.
According to him, by encouraging local production it would ease ways of doing business in Nigeria.
“There is clearly no better way to achieve these without building our economic foundation on made in Nigeria goods and services.
“Fortunately we have champions of made in Nigeria which have defied the odds over the years to produce locally and to contribute to our economy.” he added.
Osinbajo said “in 2016 budget we have a N350billion which we expected to recover. But in terms of physical cash we’ve not been able to recover all that in terms of physical cash.
“For instance we have $400m outstanding to USA, and close to $300m outstanding with the Swiss.
He explained that a lot of things the government budgeted for in the 2016 have not been achieved because the money which they proposed to recovered, those that were recovered so far didn’t come in enough quantity and at the time expected.
According to him, “What we have recovered we already made public during the president address, we stated the actual amount, including real estate, e.t.c.
Osinbajo however expressed optimism that the FG was investing big on rail transportation, because the movement of all goods across the nation through the roads, without using rails was responsible for fast destruction of those roads.
He added that the government was also investing on solar energy, in view of the rate at which militants were destroying oil facilities in the Niger Delta, which he said was having great adverse effects on gas used for power generation.
One of the key objectives of government according to him was to ensure that gain changing private sector investments were supported.
“For instance the Dangote’s 60,000 barrel refinery, the largest single refinery in the world when it comes on stream in 2018. If that comes on stream, and we are supporting the whole efforts.
If it comes on stream on schedule Nigeria will no longer need to import petroleum products. That is 30 per cent of the foreign exchange.” he added.
While fielding question on policy objective of the government, Osinbajo said, “We have a very clearly stated policy objective. Even just looking at 2016-2018, we have what we called Strategic Implementation Plan. Economy policy is not everybody’s stuff.
“We’re training 65,000 young people in technology related discipline. And the whole idea is to create opportunities for young people in this particular field. There are some people for instance,in area of cartoon, animation and all that,” he added.
On what people should be expecting from the government in the next six years. He said, “We are doing technology house, two in each of the six geopolitical zones across Nigeria. One in Lagos and one in Abuja. And that is contained in the Strategic Investment Plan.
“Because we intend to encourage young people to go into technology. And we are also investing in training young people on animation.” Osinbajo explained.
Speaking on the government’s challenges, the Budget minister disclosed that they have big plans on agriculture, solid minerals, energy development, road construction “but we couldn’t get more than 54% of what we budgeted for in the first half of the year.” he said.
He lamented that the 2016 budget was not based on recession but available facts at the time of planning it last year.
“Largest amount have gone to the Ministry of Works, Power and Housing, for roads. But unfortunately the impact have not been felt. But the minister explained that for the last three, four years Nigeria has not been paying their debts,” he said.
According to him, the Works minister explained that accumulated debt have been affecting the project execution because once the money is paid to the contractors they always wanted to take it as their outstanding debts.
And the minister said he was bargaining with them to use the money for the current projects, assuring them that the debts would be paid but they were not willing to execute the projects as they ought to.
The Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr Kayode Fayemi while explaining a lot of values the sector could add to the development of the country, noted that the nation has 44 solid minerals but not known as a mining nation.
He disclosed that illegal mining was high in the country which was one of the reasons government was not get enough revenue from it.
Fayemi however itemised licensing the minerals, managing them, making laws to guide mining activities and enforcing the laws as one of the ways for the nation to get the best out of the abundance opportunities in the sector.