THE Federal Government has resolved to release N350bn into the economy, which has been battered by the sharp drop in the price of crude oil in the global market, as parts of measures aimed at stabilising it.
This is one of the outcomes of a two-day retreat organised by the National Economic Council chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The governors of Zamfara and Anambra states, Abdulaziz Yari and Willie Obiano; Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma; and his Finance counterpart, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, read the retreat’s communique to State House correspondents at the end of the programme.
Adeosun expressed the conviction that the money, which would be released by her ministry in the coming months, would restore significant economic activities in the country.
She said for contractors to benefit from the fund, they must show proof of the number of Nigerians that would be re-engaged.
Adeosun said, “From the Ministry of Finance, in anticipation of the approval of the budget, we have virtually lined up about N350bn, which we will be pumping into the Nigerian economy in the forthcoming months.
“We explained our rationale and the processes that we have put in place to ensure that this money actually achieves the desired objective, which is to stimulate the economy. We are already discussing with some of the contractors who will be paid this money, and the objectives from the overall criteria is the number of Nigerians that will be re-engaged.
“We are specifically looking at contractors who have laid off staff and how many Nigerians they are going to put back to work as a result of this money that we are planning to release, and we believe that this will bring significant economic activity.”
The minister said participants at the retreat called on state governors to reduce the number of their political appointees, including commissioners, as much as possible.
“State governors were encouraged, where possible, to rationalise the number of commissioners and general political appointees, and in addition, cost-control measures should be identified and implemented on an ongoing basis, and there was a sharing of best practices from a number of states that could be applied elsewhere,” Adeosun added.
The minister also said the retreat called on state governments to bring in more cost-efficiency into their operations, noting that they were asked to establish efficiency units to achieve the feat.
She added, “We deliberated extensively on the drop in revenue, particularly as to how it affects the state governments and their ability to pay salaries and fulfil other obligations.
“The general resolve of the house and the consensus was that there was a need to bring in more cost-efficiency in their operations, in particular to look at the setting up of efficiency units within the state governments to rationalise expenditure, and of course, to increase IGR.
“To that end, there is a need to generate data because data is the basis of any revenue collection effort. The federal and state inland revenue services will collaborate to do joint audits to invest in revenue, relevant technology and efforts to improve collection.
“There is a need to develop incentives for both federal and state revenue generating agencies to ensure that there is an alignment of interest.
“There is a focus at state level on property and consumption taxes to help in improving revenue in a fair manner. Taxpayer education must be intensified and to expand the tax base and ensure that there is a buy-in in the revenue collection agencies from the populace.”
Adeosun added that the retreat also discussed the Universal Basic Education Commission and the need to get legislative approval to change the need for counterpart funding on the part of state governments, which is believed to be putting them further into debt.
This, she explained, would release an estimated N58bn currently not being accessed.