The government’s plan was announced at the end a two-day National Economic Council (NEC) retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Explaining that the Federal Government is keen at using the 2016 budget to fast-track economic diversification, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, said efforts had been put in place to ensure that the spending on the capital projects trickles down to all Nigerians.
Mrs Adeosun, in her paper at the second day of the National Economic Council retreat in Abuja, said: “We are going to spend money and this will be done in a disciplined manner and in right places.
“The Federal Government has a platform and system of control in place to ensure transparency. Spending will not be reckless.
“We are pumping 350 billion Naira into the economy in the next one quarter to help the economy to bounce back. That has never happened in the history of this country”.
According to her, part of the money would be used to offset contractual debts.
“Robust Revenue Drive”
With this huge spending, the minister believed that “companies that had laid off staff and those that had abandoned projects are going back to sites and the economy will bounce back”.
“Our priority is that the wages of workers will be paid. We have engaged the contractors to let them know that the payment of management fees has to wait, this is how to make the money to trickle down to Nigerians,” she told the gathering.
The Minister further urged state governments to take their destinies in their own hands by proactively driving revenue generation, saying “now is the time to put in place a robust revenue drive by the states”.
“There is need to have a business and commercial approach to revenue generation,” she emphasised.
Mrs Adeosun also stressed the need for the Nigerian government to look at data management, saying “nobody can succeed in revenue generation without the numbers. It is important to report accurately and understand the billings versus the revenue coming in”.
She told the gathering that the Finance Ministry had already strengthened the Post-Mortem Sub-Committee of the Federation Account.
“The big differences between the NNPC and the Federation accounts are now things of the past.
“We now run a transparent structure. We have appointed three professionals to help clean the system. They write formal reports and get formal responses to all the questions,” she said.
Speaking on the plans for the Customs service, the minister said the Federal Government had agreed to review the remunerations of the Customs Service.
“We look at the Customs and found out that it has one of the lowest salaries at least from their peer group. That is a problem. Here you have a custom officer being paid 50, 000 Naira monthly and you task him to collect duty of nearly two million Naira.
“This means we are looking for trouble. So we are working on better remuneration for the Customs.
“The other issue is the equipment being used by the agency. Their ability to scan containers is very important. Classifications of containers are faulty now because of the kind of equipment they use.
Ability to scan a container and know what is in it is limited,” the Minister stated.
Some other resolutions reached at the retreat which she read out to reporters were focused on increasing Internally Generated Revenue and fostering collaboration between Federal and State Inland Revenues to ensure there was an alignment.
The retreat was said to have been muted by the Nigerian Governors Forum to find a solution to the economic problems they had faced over time.
To solve the problems, the Chairman of the National Economic Council convened the two-day retreat.
Other resolutions reached at the retreat were read out by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma.
The Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano said a resolution was reached on the integration of trading in infrastructure projects and investing in the Nigerian people through the school feeding programme.
The National Economic Council also established two committees, one of them headed by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to monitor the full implementation of the resolutions from the retreat, as well as provide a progress report on the implementation.