President Goodluck Jonathan is to present the 2013 federal budget to Nigerians and then submit it to the National Assembly about three months to the end of the year on October 4, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has said.
She also said that Federal Government has paid petroleum products marketers about N 394. 8 billion to settle subsidy claims.
President Goodluck Jonathan
This is even as Jonathan has assured prospective investors in the country of his administration’s committment and total support to reposition the nation’s economy, making it one of the leading economies by 2020.
Dr Okoja- Iweala who spoke about the 2013 budget in Abuja yesterday said “We have been meeting with members of the National Assembly and having fruitful discussions and we look forward to Mr. President budget’s speech in October 4.”
The minister who brought copies of the budget to the conference, which was also attended by the Director-General of Budget, Dr. Bright Okogu, explained that she was satisfied that her team in her ministry and the Budget Office worked round the clock for the budget to be ready by now, in line with the directive that the budget be completed early enough for submission to the Legislature.’’
On the implementation of the 2012 budget, she said that N710.4 billion, out of the N1.3 trillion budgeted for capital expenses had so far been released, adding that, N553. 2 billion was cash-backed, with the autilization of N320.9 billion, which is about 58 per cent of the amount cash-backed.
The Minister added that implementation of the 2012 budget did not commence until April, this year because the ministries , departments and agencies implemented the 2011 budget until the end of March, 2012.
According to her, “Implementation (of 2012 budget) could not begin till April because MDAs were still implementing 2011 budget up until the end of March.
This is why this is important; as long as we delay implementation, it is very difficult to talk about ratio. If you want to talk about implementation, you then have to measure it from April, May, June, July, August and September. It will be unfair to go and have a ratio over the entire thing.”
She further added that the issue of the time the budget commenced was key in the evaluation of the 2012 budget and urged analysts to always bear in mind that it started in April, rather than January, the beginning of the year.
Okonjo-Iweala, said that her team was however, still working hard to ensure that substantial gains were recorded in the budget implementation between now and the end of the year, pointing out that she had discussed with the Legislature on the need for the two arms of governemtn to collaborate and ensure that the implementation of budget 2013 begins in January next year.
On claims by petroleum marketers that they were being owed, the minister said, they were paid the money in three tranches in what she described as a continuous process, since the government would continue to pay all marketers cleared by the Presidential Task Force, headed by Mr Aig Imoukhuede.
“As the Presidential Task Force clears more, we will make further payment”, Okonjo-Iweala stressed adding that sometimes, “they are able to clear all the claims from the marketers at other time they are able to clear some.
They take the claims in batches. We do not want to wait for all the claims to be finished. We do not want to wait till the end before paying people”.
According to her, the first payment was N 259.3 billion, followed by another N 78. 8 billion and the most recent, N 56. 7 billion.
She said that those who benefited from the last payment included: Oando, Total, Integrated Oil and Gad, MRS Oil Plc and North-West Oil Ltd.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala then assured that the Federal Government would continue to administer the subsidy regime in a very transparent way in the interest the Nigerian public.
Meanwhile, Jonathan assured prospective investors of his administration’s support when he declared open, the first edition of the 2012 Oil and Gas Trade and Investment Forum at Onne, Rivers State, Thursday.
Represented by the Rivers State Governor and Chairman of the Nigeria Governor’s Forum, NGF, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Jonathan said the initiative was part of his administration’s transformation agenda, based on the belief that the private sector was the engine of economic growth as well as the prime mover of the economic reform process.
He explained that government had come up with policies, plans and programmes geared towards the reduction or outright elimination of bottlenecks to business and investment through harmonization of Nigeria’s trade procedures and documentations, while providing investment friendly environment.
“As you are already aware, our gathering here today is to showcase the success of the Onne Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone with a view to attracting Domestic and Foreign Direct Investment to all the Free Trade Zones in Nigeria and to enhance the role of private sector in driving the economy towards sustainable development, wealth and job creation”, he said, just as he expressed confidence in the capability, imagination and commitment of the operators of the Free Trade Zones to achieve the desired goal of putting the country among the top 20 economies in the world by the year 2020.
“The support and sustainable partnership of the Private Sector is critical at this period so as to strengthen, deepen and sustain growth and economic transformation of this country. I challenge the other Free Trade Zones to leverage on the success of Onne with a view to understanding the vast benefits and opportunities in their zones and applying them to grow their businesses.”
He commended the state Governor, Amaechi for the success of the Onne Free Trade Zone, as well as the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment for promoting public-private partnership through collaboration and formation of strategic alliance in promoting Nigeria’s economic growth.
On his part, Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga said, the Oil and Gas industry has continued to play a dominant role in the growth of the Nigerian economy, as it is central and strategic to defining transformation strategy for the national economy just as the zone had attracted several investors and created about 30,000 jobs to date.
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