The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma, has announced that the Federal Executive Council (FEC), on Wednesday directed Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to fast-track the release of their capital budgets to quickly reflate the economy.
He disclosed this at a meeting with State House correspondents after the FEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja.
“The focus of our deliberation today at the FEC was a review of the economy which we do from time to time. On a quarterly basis, the Ministry of Budget and National Planning briefs the cabinet about the economy and the steps that we need to take.”
“Council approved that the various MDAs should fast-track the processes for release of their capital budget so that the economy can be quickly reflated’’, he said.
According to him, the administration’s promise to release N350 billion into the economy was undergoing some process, adding that while it was easy to release for ongoing projects, new ones would pass through procurement laws.
“The N350 billion indicated is available but there is a process and this is part of the reasons we briefed council. There is need to fast-track those processes so that most of those monies will be released very soon.’’
He said the administration expected that the Ministry of Works should make quite substantial release in the next week or so.
Udoma explained that the release would be easier for existing projects “but new projects are a bit more difficult because of the public procurement”, adding that the impact of the release would be felt soon.
He said the administration would from time to time announce various amounts released to the economy.
On President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive for the release of grains to ease economic hardships, Udoma said the Minister of Agriculture was in a better position to state the situation.
On economic plan, he said “we launched a strategic document, we set out 34 things we want to achieve this year, we set out all our objectives. We have a plan and the plan is to reflate the economy.
“What has happened to Nigeria is not a surprise to the government; it is something that we came in to meet. It has been caused by the fall of crude oil prices from over $100 to less than $30. We came in to meet that problem.”
Udoma said the administration decided to spend a huge amount of money on infrastructure to correct the economic malaise in the country.
“We know the situation we are in right now and we have a plan to get out of the situation.’’
The minister also denied rumours of impending sack of workers in para-military organizations, stating that it was the policy of the administration not to retrench anywhere.
“We said so at the beginning that we are not going to retrench, there is a natural wastage which happens in government. There are people who retire, people who may be disciplined but there is no policy in this government to retrench.”
Udoma explained some of government policies to ensure self-sufficiency in rice and wheat production in a few years.
He recalled that the Vice President just set up a task force headed by Gov. Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State, to realise that.
“We are implementing the plan one by one. We have a plan to move this country up 20 places in the ease of doing business. We want to stimulate the private sector because we know that even the spending by government alone will not be sufficient,” he said.