FEC Approves $82 Million Japanese Loan To Eradicate Polio

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved an $82 million loan facility from the Japan International Corporation Agency to speed up the eradication of polio in the country.

The loan, which has an annual interest rate of 0.2 per cent, will give a boost to the Federal Government’s effort to completely eradicate polio in the country.

Briefing State House Correspondents after the council meeting, the Minister for Water Resources, Mrs Sfec_channelsarah Ochepke, who joined the Information Minister, Mr Labaran Maku, decried a situation where the water resources available in Nigeria do not have a proper management.

The FEC also approved a new National Water Resources Master Plan which aims at not only making fresh water available to Nigerians but puts Nigeria on the same pedestal with other countries of the world.

The FEC also applauded the recent data from 2010-2013 by the World Bank which has placed the poverty level in Nigeria from 62 to 31.1 per cent.

Mr Maku said that the report is an indication that the various poverty measures adopted by the present administration have been working.

The council further noted that the development in agriculture and the new methods of distributing seeds and fertilizers in the country have contributed to the reduction of poverty in the country.

The Information Minister also spoke about the Sovereign Wealth Fund and the benefits so far, as well as efforts to make houses available to Nigerians using the Nigerian Mortgage Refinancing Company.

The Federal Executive Council also urged President Jonathan to keep his eyes on the ball, hoping that, despite distractions from terror attacks, Nigeria will be among the largest world economies.

50 Questions: House Committee To Commence Public Hearing On Economy

The House of Representatives Committee on Finance is to begin a public hearing to dissect the response of the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to its 50 questions.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala had sent a reply to 50 questions posed to her in an earlier meeting with the committee, but the House members did not seem satisfied with her answers.

To this end, the Clerk of the Committee on Finance, Farouk Mustapha, said that the members are in receipt of the 102-page response, but a public hearing would commence where all concerned Nigerians would get information on the NNPC missing funds and other lapses found in the economy.

The Minister had been scheduled to meet with the committee in December 2013, but the proposed meeting degenerated into a disagreement between her and the Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, Abdul-Mumini Jibrin.

The Chairman had ruled that the Minister, who had said that she was feeling a bit sick, would be excused and should return at another date to meet with the committee.

The confrontation, however, ensued when the Minister insisted that she was ready to speak to the committee and the committee insisted that they stand by their ruling that the Minister should return on another date, presenting her with the said document containing the 50 questions.

The newly announced public hearing is expected to bring out the needed information to finally clear the air on the state of the nation’s economy.

No date has been announced for the hearing.

War of Words: Minister Of Finance, Reps In Shouting Match

A war of words broke out on Thursday evening between the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Finance, Abdul-Mumini Jibrin, during a meeting scheduled to discuss the state of the economy from January to date.

The chairman of the committee had ruled that the minister, who had said she was feeling a little sick, would be excused and should return at another date to meet with the committee.

The confrontation, however, ensued when the minister insisted that she was ready to speak to the committee and the committee insisted that they stand by their ruling that the minister should return on another date.

The Chairman of the Committee, Abdul-Mumini Jibrin, had earlier said that the purpose of the invitation was to “critically look at issues pertaining the economy.”

According to him, with lots of issues, allegations and counter-allegations, going on, “we want to open up all issues. We have sent her a letter that the committee doesn’t want any vague presentation”.

He stressed that: “I am actually interested in engaging with the minister who in private accepts something but shies away in public”.

“We will also engage the minister of finance on the allegations made by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor on ‘missing’ crude oil revenue, ‘missing’ Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), external borrowings, ‘missing’ SURE-P funds and others,” Jibrin intimated.

Exchange Of Words

Exchange of words began when the committee insisted that it would give the Minister a list of questions it intended asking and asked her to give her response to the questions and return it to the committee on the day of the rescheduled briefing.

“We will give you time to give us a written explanation and answers to those questions and also arrange for you to appear before this committee when you are strong and energetic,” the committee chairman said.

The minister expressed her readiness to answer the questions but Jibrin refused to let her speak.

“Listen, you can decide what will happen only in the Ministry of Finance but not in the Committee of Finance. You will go, give us a written explanation after two weeks. We will take your written explanation and study it then we will invite you for a proper engagement. That is the ruling of the committee. Thank you for coming,” he said, hitting the gavel.

After the lawmaker’s ruling, the minister said the committee handled her in a rough manner without respect.

“When you invite ministers, you have to treat them with respect. We have human rights. We cannot come here to this house and be abused,” Okonjo-Iweala said, showing her disapproval of the committee chairman’s action.


Reps Probe Use Of Foreign Managers For Sovereign Fund

The House of Representatives in Nigeria has launched a probe into the appointment of foreign portfolio managers for the nation’s Sovereign Wealth Fund.

The probe is to look at the possible risks the country faces with the appointments of foreign financial institutions – UBS and Goldman Sachs – to manage the fund.

Femi Gbajabiamila, who is the house minority leader, argued that “allowing foreign financial institutions to manage the fund amounts to putting Nigeria’s economic sovereignty and security in foreign hands”.

He also said a conflict of interest existed, as two former staff of the foreign institutions had prominent roles within the fund.

The issue triggered a debate in the chamber. Members had to vote to decide its fate.

A joint committee has been mandated to investigate the matter to determine the risks that may arise from the appointment of foreign institutions to manage the funds.

A report is expected from the committee in two weeks.


Investment In Nigeria’s SWF To Commence In March 2013

The Ministry of Finance has announced that investments under the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) will commence in March 2013.

The Ministry in a statement on Thursday maintained that the fund is making progress towards becoming fully operational as the strategy document which will guide its operations is ready.

This is coming two months after the inauguration of the fund by President Goodluck Jonathan.

The statement adds that the strategy document was ratified by the board of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) led by Mr. Mahey Rasheed to ensure that the blue print is ready and on time.

It added that efforts to hire key personnel and acquire a functional office has reached an advanced stage.

The Coordinating Minister for the economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, noted that “The country is poised to benefit significantly if the current momentum on the fund is maintained.”

The Managing Director of NSIA, Mr Uche Orji, also explained that in seeking the best investments for Nigeria, the NSIA will not limit itself but will search for the best deals wherever they can be found in the world.

“There are no geographical restrictions or product restrictions for the Future Generation and Fiscal Stabilization Fund, and we expect to invest across the full spectrum of products (equities, fixed income, alternative assets, etc.), in accordance with our five year rolling plan, that will provide a superior risk adjusted returns for the future generations of Nigerians.”

Constitutional issues may hinder sovereign wealth fund-Proshare boss

The successful implementation of the country’s Sovereign Wealth Fund may be hinged on determining its constitutional status.

This was the view of the CEO of Proshare Nigeria, Mr. Femi Awoyemi in an interview with our correspondent, Bolaji Akinwale.

Mr Awoyemi’s comment comes on the heels of the constitution of a management board for the fund.

For the rest of that interview you may watch Business Incorporated this Friday at 8.30pm.

Reps move to keep Sovereign Wealth Fund with Nigerian banks

The House of Representatives has taken steps to keep the planned nation’s Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other investment and commercial banks.

This is to discourage plans on the management of the fund with foreign banks.

The move was initiated following the debate on a motion by Aminu Suleiman, who said unless contributors to the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) were compelled to keep their funds in local viable banks, other governments may deviate from the original aim of the sovereign investment fund.

While some lawmakers felt the Act setting up the fund must be amended to affect the change needed, the lawmakers still supported the motion.

Committees on commerce, banking and finance have been mandated to conduct a public hearing to explore the possibilities of keeping the funds in first class commercial banks in the country so as to guarantee the correct usage of the fund.