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FG: Printing N60bn to augment March federal allocation not a fact

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has told Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State not to worry over the country’s rising debt profile because it is still within sustainable limits.

She also said that the assertion made by the governor on the printing of N60 billion by the federal government to augment the shortfall in the federally allocated March revenue is not “a fact.”

Ahmed gave the assurance while briefing correspondents on the outcome of the Wednesday, April 14, 2021, meeting of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, presided over by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Recall that Obaseki had said last Saturday, “When we got FAAC for March, the federal government printed additional N50-N60 billion to top-up for us to share.

“This April, we will go to Abuja and share. By the end of this year, our total borrowings are going to be within N15-N16 trillion.”

Ahmed, however, explained that whatever is distributed at the monthly Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meetings were generated revenue from government institutions and can be accessed by the public at the ministry’s website.

She argued: “The issue that was raised by the Edo state governor for me is very, very sad because it is not a fact. What we distribute at FAAC is revenue that is generated and in fact distribution revenue is public information.

“We publish revenue generated by FIRS, the customs and the NNPC and we distribute at FAAC. So, it is not true to say we printed money to distribute at FAAC, it is not true.

“On the issue of the borrowing, the Nigerian debt is still within sustainable limit. What we need to do as I have said several times is to improve our revenue to enhance our capacity to service not only our debt but to service the needs of running the government on day to day basis.

“So, our debt currently at about 23% to GDP is at a very sustainable level. If you look at all the reports that you see from multilateral institutions.”

On the deliberations by the FEC, the council approved a total of N20,114,002871 for the acquisition of various operational equipment for the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).

The minister said a total of 427 operational vehicles, worth N14.55 billion and nine assorted gunboats worth N5,564,002,871 was approved.

She explained: “The ministry also presented, on behalf of the Nigerian Customs Service, a memo that was seeking for Council’s approval for the design, construction and supply of two NC36M patrol boats, in favour of Messrs of Boat Plus Limited, in the sum of N5,062,530,400, inclusive of 7.5% VAT with a delivery period of 12 months and council approved our request.

“We also presented a memo, again on behalf of the Nigerian Customs Service, for the approval of Council for the design, construction and supply of seven fast assault patrol boats and seven regular patrol boats, in favour of Messrs Siwa West Africa Limited, in the sum of N501,472,471.08, inclusive of 7.5% VAT with a delivery period of eight weeks.

“The purpose of the purchase of these two types of petrol boats is to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of operations of the Nigerian Customs Service in its bid to control smuggling and also ensure enhanced efficiency in all customs duty operations in the Marine Unit of the Nigerian Customs Service.

“We also presented, again on behalf of the Nigeria Customs Service, a request for Council’s approval and council approved the procurement of 427 operational vehicles for the Nigerian Customs Service operations in favour of various contractors in the combined sum of N14.55 billion, inclusive of 7.5% VAT with a delivery period of four weeks.”

Mrs Ahmed also revealed that FEC approved the sum of N539,277,673 for the construction of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) building at the Ilupeju Medium and Small Taxpayers’ office.

Also speaking on behalf of the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the council approved a project for the extension of the University of Ibadan’s library at the sum of N532 million.

He added: “The Minister of Education also presented a memo for the award of contract for the construction and furnishing of the extension of the library of the University of Ibadan. The memo, which was approved, is at the cost of N532,609,000 and with a completion period of 48 weeks.

“It was a memo that was very well received because of the need to actually extend the library facility in the university. For many years, the library of the University of Ibadan needed real extension, given the surge of the student population.”

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