Petrol Queues Will Soon Disappear – Okonjo-Iweala

Ngozi Okonjo-IwealaThe Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Wednesday assured Nigerians that fuel queues will soon disappear from petrol stations around the country.

Briefing State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting, the Minister said over N320 billion had been paid to the marketers and that all outstanding issues have been resolved.

She also noted that the scarcity was caused by a number of factors which included the depreciation in exchange rate.

She said, “We discussed that (fuel scarcity) at the FEC because Mr‎. President wanted prompt and quick action to improve the situation as fast as possible.

“So, after the briefing and discussion on both the financial and physical side, what emanated is that this situation, we hope will soon be resolved because both on the financial side, action has been taken and it is being implemented through the Ministry of Finance and the Governor of the CBN.

“Let it be known that in December we paid N320.2 billion to marketers to settle their claims and as of now, what we have approved by Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency is about N185 billion on Sunday, which we are issuing sovereign debt notes to which is tantamount to having government guarantee that they will be paid.

“But the long and ‎short of the matter is that the financial issue has been taken care of.

The Executive Secretary, Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Mr Farouk Ahmed, had on Tuesday blamed the scarcity of fuel on the inability of petroleum marketers to get letters of credit from commercial banks to enable them import fuel.

He also blamed two rounds of naira devaluation carried out by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“The recent events have to do with delay in the arrival of cargoes. Non-arrival of cargoes made it difficult for Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) to be delivered. What actually complicated it was the devaluation of naira – two times. The first one that took place on November 28, 2014 when Naira was devalued from N155 to N168 to $1. The second one that took place on February 18 brought the exchange rate to N199 to $1.

“These two developments brought a lot of confusion into the oil sector. Marketers were not sure of the actual delivery cost. We had to draw a new template as advised by the CBN. The delay we have now is caused by the November devaluation. But the reality is that the policy is clear now”, he said.

The PPPRA Executive Secretary made the explanation at a budget defense session in the senate in response to questions from lawmakers on the long queues at petrol stations across the country.

Dropping Oil Prices: FG Unveils New Economic Measures

Okonjo-IwealaThe Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has appealed to Nigerians to tighten their belts ahead of the stringent economic measures being proposed by the Federal Government.

This new development follows a drop in oil price in the global market.

Addressing a Special Media Briefing in Abuja on Sunday,  Dr Okonjo-Iweala declared that the Federal Ministry of Finance has been keeping a close eye on movements in global oil prices because of the critical importance of oil as the country’s most important source of revenue.

As part of the response, the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the 2015 Budget proposal to the National Assembly have been revised. As a result, the federal government will be proposing a benchmark of $73 dollars per barrel to the National Assembly compared to the earlier proposed benchmark of $78.

Dr. Iweala told journalists in Abuja on Sunday that the austerity measure being proposed are meant to cushion the effect of the oil price drop.

She said government will increase revenue collection targets for the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) from N75 to N160 billion, place restrictions on international travels in the public service and surcharge on luxury items for high income earners, among others.

“Foreign travel will have to be funded by those inviting civil or public servants and all expenses paid by the inviting body. Same goes for training, local training will be encouraged but expenses for foreign training will be borne by inviting foreign host with permission sought from Head of Service (HoS). Evidence of sponsorship detailing all expenses paid for by inviting body must be tendered before HoS will grant approval.

“I am not sure of what direction to take with taxes but that a key initiative on the revenue side is a surcharge on luxury items details of which are being worked out. Government’s efforts from now will be to increase Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of entities and ensure that they remit these IGRs on time to government coffers. This economy has to stop talking about oil.

“Printing money without adequate revenue support will lead to serious consequences for the country. It will spur spiral inflation as the experiences of Germany in the early part of the last century and more recently, Argentina and Zimbabwe demonstrate. This prescription will victimize the poor and middle class that it is supposedly protecting.” she added.

She however noted that the economy “continues to exhibit strength but government will not compensate by borrowing or printing currency but will borrow at very low interest rate and no large domestic borrowing.”

Jonathan Leads Delegation To AU Summit

President Goodluck Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan will lead Nigeria’s delegation to the African Union’s Summit on Financing Infrastructure Development scheduled to hold in Dakar, the Senegalese capital on Sunday.

A statement by the spokesman for the president, Reuben Abati, said that the President would depart Abuja on Saturday with the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Minister of Industries, Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga amongst others.

Nigeria’s delegation will join other participating Heads of State and Government, representatives of the United Nations, the African Union, global financial institutions and leading investors in deliberations at the summit aimed at accelerating the implementation of key priority infrastructure projects within the framework of the African Union’s Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa.

According to Abati, The President and other participants at the Summit which is being convened under the auspices of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) will also brainstorm on the mobilisation of domestic financial resources for infrastructure development, the creation of conducive policy environments to enhance investments in infrastructure development and the leveraging of Public-Private Partnerships for continental infrastructure transformation.

The summit is expected to pay particular attention to the evolution of fresh strategies for the financing of high priority infrastructure projects such as regional road and rail networks, power supply and ports development. 

President Jonathan, who will also be accompanied by the Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed and his Special Adviser on NEPAD, Ambassador Fidelia Njeze, will return to Abuja at the conclusion of the summit on Sunday.

AUDIO: 2013 Budget Is Not Implementable – Okonjo Iweala

Five months into the year, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the economy Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; has cautioned on the 2013 budget warning that it is not implementable due to deductions made by the National Assembly.

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said the budget isn’t implementable because the chunk of monies allocated to key sectors of the economy has been slashed by the lawmakers.

The Minister spoke to Channels TV from Cape Town, South Africa where she is attending the World Economic Forum on Africa.

According to her “as we speak it is difficult to pay salaries of civil servants because N32 billion allocated for payment of salaries has been removed.”

This is coming just as the House of Representative hinted on Thursday that it may turn down proposed amendments to the 2013 budget sent by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Briefing journalists in Abuja, chairman of the House Committee on media and publicity, Representative Zakari Mohammed explained that the amendment is the same as the initial budget forwarded to the National Assembly.

The 2013 Budget which was passed in December 2012 and signed into law by President Jonathan in February 2013, has remained a thorny issue between the National Assembly and the Presidency.