FG Begins Verification Of Monthly Budget Support Facility

Yemi Osinbajo, NEC, Budget Support Facility, VerificationThe Federal Government has commenced the verification of its monthly Budget Support Facility to the states.

The importance of the exercise is to ensure that benefiting state governments comply with the mutually agreed Fiscal Sustainability Plan prescribed by the National Economic Council (NEC).

The resolution was reached at the first NEC meeting in 2017, presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, said that eight accounting firms have been appointed and had already begun the audit process.

She also told the council that the balance in excess crude account stands at $2,458,382,844.03 as at February 15, 2017.

The minister hinted that the National Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) plans to increase domestic infrastructure investment in 2017, as there are compelling opportunities in the environment.

She explained that the focus would be on social infrastructure, including affordable housing and healthcare through the development of specialist hospitals and to this end, the council has decided to inject a fresh $250 million into the Sovereign Wealth Fund sourced from the excess crude account.

On agriculture, the council was informed of the massive wheat production in Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi and Zamfara states among others.

The State Governors at the meeting, however, appealed to the Federal Government to make plans for the purchase of excess wheat to ensure price stability and sustainable production.

The council subsequently agreed to discuss and make adequate buy-back arrangements in order to support price stability.

After a brief presentation on foreign exchange policy options by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, members of the council generally expressed concern over the current situation of the exchange rate.

They called for an urgent review of the current policy, especially the gap between interbank and the parallel market rates.

In his response, Mr Emefiele sued for patience and understanding, assuring the council that the situation was being closely managed.

FG Denies Withholding Statutory Allocation To Ekiti State

FInance Ministry, Ekiti State, Statutory AllocationThe Ministry of Finance has refuted claims by the Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose, that it is withholding statutory allocation to the state.

The ministry described the claims as incorrect while stating that it has not withheld any statutory allocation due to Ekiti State, or any other state in Nigeria.

A statement issued on Thursday by the spokesman for the ministry, Salisu Dambatta, said that the Ekiti State government failed to comply with the necessary requirements for participating in the Budget Support Facility (BSF).

Mr Dambatta explained that BSF was a conditional loan programme to state governments introduced with the view to enhancing fiscal prudence.

He added that the programme was also designed particularly to enhance transparency and efficiency in public expenditure and payment of salaries.

The statement read: “This is not the first time of non-compliance by the Ekiti State Government.

“His (Fayose’s) administration defaulted in meeting the conditions specified and agreed upon by the 35 State Governments that are participating in the programme, as contained in the Fiscal Sustainability Plan (FSP).

“The Ekiti State government was warned formally of its failure to comply with the full requirements via a letter on August 5, 2016, with reference number HMF/FMF/ASG/1/2016.

“The failure of Ekiti State Government to comply with the requirements and conditions for the Budget Support Facility (BSF) resulted in a letter sent to the Chief of Staff, to notify him of the suspension of BSF for Ekiti State and it was conveyed to Mr President before payment to the Ekiti State government was reinstated.

“The Ekiti State government and all the other participating states are aware of the consequence of failure to comply with the full conditions and it is not the first time that a state would be stopped from accessing the facility due to non-compliance.

“In the course of its normal duties, the Ministry of Finance has the right to query, suspend or withhold funds as part of the conditions of the Budget Support Facility.

“The process is for the Commissioner of Finance of any state or the governor having issues to contact the Federal Ministry of Finance and resolve the issues without resorting to the media, because such issues are of a financial nature and therefore, confidential; they are routinely resolved amicably by the parties involved.”

The Finance Ministry maintained that the Budget Support Facility is a conditional programme and that the Federal Government would not be intimidated in the discharge of its duties.