Buhari pumps N432b into economy, says Osinbajo

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VP Professor Yemi Osinbajo
VP Professor Yemi Osinbajo

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said on Thursday that additional N100 billion would  soon be released into the economy by the Buhari administration to boost productive activities and fast track development.

Osinbajo gave the indication in his keynote speech at the Presidential Policy Dialogue organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), in Lagos.

By the release, a total of N432 billion would have been injected into the economy since the signing of the 2016 budget in May.

He said: “We had pledged to keep capital spending in the budget at a minimum of 30 per cent. This is a target that we are determined to keep since it is investment that grows an economy.

“Accordingly, we have already made capital releases of N332billion, which is more than the entire amount released last year for capital expenditure, with another N100 billion set to be released in the next few days.’’

Osinbajo gave the main sectors for which the funds had been released as power, works and housing; defence; transportation and agriculture.

He said one of the first areas in which the APC administration brought change was in public financial management which had a consequential effect of saving jobs as well as money.

According to him, “the reality is that every “ghost worker” eliminated at the Federal level is a job saved.

“Other policy instruments used in this regard include the Treasury Single Account, which has brought transparency into inflows and outflows of government monies.

“The on-going implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System is bringing about monthly savings of N8billion, while the creation of the Efficiency Unit is projected to save N14billion in 2016 fiscal year.’’

The Vice President said the administration had made a great effort to improve non-oil revenues.

He said the measure had brought additional 700,000 companies into the tax net as compared to the targeted 500,000 set at the beginning of the year.

“The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has achieved 73.17 per cent of its target for the first half of the year.

“In a similar vein, the Nigeria Customs Service has undertaken substantial revision of incentives, control and enforcement measures.’’

Osinbajo said that deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector had ensured significant increase in the availability of PMS throughout the country.

He said the measure was achieved by stabilising the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) at N145 per litre as against over N200 per litre being paid at most parts of the country prior to the deregulation.

Accordingly, he announced that the daily demand for PMS reduced from 1,600 trucks to 850 trucks.

“This has resulted in the savings of N1.4 trillion on subsidy payments, thereby conserving budget resources.

“It also reduced demand for foreign exchange required to import such volumes, which were also smuggled to neighbouring countries because of the previous price differential.’’

The Vice President noted that government was pursuing the diversification programme through agriculture, with vigour to ensure food security and save foreign exchange on food importation.

Osinbajo said the administration realised that the private sector was the engine of growth in successful economies which was why it continued to support and encourage massive investments by private investors and key employers of labour.

He mentioned government’s support for the development of the Dangote Refinery, the Indorama Eleme Petrochemical facilities, Honeywell Sorghum Plant as well as the Golden Sugar and Savannah Sugar projects.

“Our intention with other solid minerals is to emulate what has already been achieved in turning limestone into cement.

“Our recent settlement on Ajaokuta holds out the promise for reviving our iron and steel industry in similar manner,’’ he said.

He said the private sector would be a major beneficiary of the government’s infrastructural investments in power, roads, rail and airports.

“The Abuja-Kaduna standard gauge rail line is up and running while work is underway with regard to the first leg of the Lagos-Kano railway which will run from Lagos to Ibadan and the Calabar-Lagos line which will start at that end.’’

On road rehabilitation, he said government paid N70billion to contractors who had not been paid in over two years with over 70 construction firms benefitting leading to the recall of no fewer than 5000 workers.

He said the firms had started work on sections of Kano-Katsina; Kano-Maiduguri; Ilorin-Jebba; and Lagos-Ibadan roads amongst others.
Osinbajo outlined efforts made to boost power from average generation from 3565MW from Jan. 2015 to May 2015 to as high as 5000MW in Feb. 2016.

He, however, added that the situation became more challenging by the recent spate of terrorism in the Niger Delta, impacting on the supply of gas for electricity generation.

“The sabotage of the Forcados export terminal alone cost the loss of 40 per cent of gas supply to power plants.

“However, efforts are underway to continue to diversify sources of energy including hydro, biomass, coal and solar.

“The recent signing of agreements with 14 solar companies, which is expected to add 1,125 megawatts to the National Grid, is an example in this regard,’’ he added.

Osinbajo said the administration remained focused on ensuring security, fighting corruption and improving the economy.

“Our immediate tasks to achieve our economic objectives are: reduce fiscal and forex imbalances; boost dollar liquidity; curb inflation; lower interest rate and ensure lending to the real sector.

“Others are increasing Foreign Direct Investments and Foreign Portfolio Investment by sustaining enabling policies; encouraging PPPs and other collaborative engagements in the private sector; deepening diversification; creating jobs and reducing poverty.’’

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