Only $1bn still in sovereign wealth fund, says Okonjo-Iweala

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the minister of finance and coordinating minister for the economy, on Monday told the National Assembly joint finance committees that only $1 billion have been paid into the Sovereign Wealth Fund.

Okonjo-Iweala, who appeared before the joint committees, however, admitted that the inability of states and local governments to agree was responsible for non-increase in the fund.

She told the committee that “since one billion dollar was paid into the Sovereign Wealth Fund at its inception, we have not made any further payment into it. We can only pay money into it when all stakeholders agree to that effect. I think you should direct all questions on this issue to the National Economic Council (NEC) which has governors as members”.

She also informed the committee headed by Ahmed Makarfi that a total of N1.01 trillion has been released to ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) from the capital vote of N1.05 trillion as provided for in the 2013 budget.

She disclosed that another N150 billion was released on Monday from the N400 billion balance in the capital vote.

On the excess crude account, the minister told the committee that a total amount of N14.06 billion accrued to the excess crude account in 2013 and from this N9 billion was spent. fiA

member of the committee, Eta Inang, a senator from Akwa Ibom, had quoted from records with the committee that so far $14.06 billion was inflow to the excess crude account while $9 billion was outflow to leave a balance of $5.06 billion.

The minister in response explained that the balance in the ECA stands at $4.3 billion, saying, “The primary use is in the payment of oil subsidy for the country…Money goes in and comes out almost immediately”.

The minister told the committee that the Federal Government was working on plans to boost non-oil revenue next year and that all leakages would be blocked even as she assured that 2014 budget would be tighter.

She said the utilisation rate of funds released from the capital budget amounted to 72 percent, pointing out that some N250 billion represented the part of the released capital votes yet to be utilised.

Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) comptroller general, Abdullahi Dikko, informed the committee that the Federal Government has lost N603, 236, 211, 198.93 of which waivers on petroleum products gulped a whopping N236, 881, 899, 749.05.

Meanwhile, Okonjo-Iweala also on Monday said no waiver was granted by her office for the two N255 million bulletproof cars.

Okonjo-Iweala said this at the House of Representatives’ Committee on Aviation investigating the two bulletproof cars bought by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) allegedly for Stella Oduah, minister of finance.

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