‘Federal government warehouses $322 million Abacha loot in safety net’
• To plug leakage in NNPC, others
• As external reserves hit $47.94b
The Federal Government is warehousing over $322 million of the “Abacha loot” to fund some national social safety nets in line with agreements reached with the Swiss Government on the return of the stolen money.Parts of the safety net are in the areas of education, health, especially immunisation and maternal mortality, and other social infrastructure.
Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who made the explanation at a joint press conference to mark the end of the Spring Meetings of the IMF/World Bank yesterday, in Washington DC, also said the sum is being used for cash transfers and redistribution to the poor and needy.
The minister, in response to measures put in place to guard against the loot being re-looted, confirmed the recovery of US$322,515,931.83 Abacha funds from the Swiss Government into a special account in the CBN.She said: “The objective of the National Social Safety Nets Project for Nigeria is to provide access to targeted transfers to the poor and vulnerable households under an expanded national social safety nets system.”
Furthermore, in line with the recovery of public assets, Adeosun said state-owned-enterprises, such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), would come under closer monitoring, especially in regards to efficiently and effectively managing their costs and plug leakages.
“We must make sure that every money that is earned comes in. We will drive the process of improving governance,” she added.These come as the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, disclosed that the country’s foreign reserves had risen to $47.93 billion, and affirmed that the country’s positive growth outlook would be sustained.
The CBN governor also noted that a growth of 2.5 per cent had been projected by the IMF and World Bank for Nigeria, and as such, “there is a need to save for the raining day and also continue to grow the foreign reserves. If we had enough reserves, we would not have suffered the recession shocks.”
Adeosun noted that the present growth outlook contrasted with the outlook in 2015, adding that inflation rate was slowing down while the foreign reserves were rising.
The minister, however, called for vigilance and focus for the country not to fall back into recession.She said: “We are confident that if we diligently implement our economic plan, we will grow the economy. We have room to grow but other countries do not have rooms to grow.
“By 2019, the growth will be far more robust than the present level in 2018. We are therefore very optimistic in sustaining Nigeria’s economic growth. We are going to use this opportunity to grow our fiscal buffers, particularly aggressively growing our revenue base.
“The administration has succeeded in building macro-economic resilience for Nigeria, particularly revising the funding mix, rebuilding fiscal buffers, enhancing foreign exchange reserves and focusing on import substitution strategies.”
On the nation’s domestic debt, she stated that the government would not aggressively grow the debt.“We are refinancing our inherited debt portfolio from short-term treasury bills to longer tenured debt which has resulted in huge savings and reduction in costs of funds for the government,” she said.
She disclosed that the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) deadline was extended by three months till June 30, 2018 due to the appeals from tax-payers for more time to regularise their tax status. She revealed that the present administration has raised the tax payers’ base from 13 million in 2015 to 17 million as at 2018.
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