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At last, FG releases details of recovered loots

By Mathias Okwe (Assistant Business Editor, Abuja), David Ogah, Omiko Awa Kamal Tayo Oropo, Seye Olumide
05 June 2016   |   2:52 am
The figures showed that about N100bn has been recovered in both cash and assets.
Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun

Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun

Labour, others Call For Judicious Use

Yesterday, the Federal Government finally released details of looted monies recovered from public officials, but without the names of culprits attached.

The figures showed that about N100bn has been recovered in both cash and assets. This figure is part of the N83.274bn in cash already in Federal Government’s vault and another sum of about N5bn under interim forfeiture.

The amount represents recoveries and seizures made since last year, when President Muhammadu Buhari came to power. It is coming one week into the last month of the second quarter of the 2016 fiscal year, with barely three weeks remaining to the end of the first half of the year.

Reacting, President of Manufacturers Association, Dr. Frank Jacobs, described the recovered loot as a windfall, which should be used judiciously for the development of infrastructure in the country. “Although, the amount is not enough to fund the budget, the government should no longer borrow to fund infrastructure, as it is currently planning to do,” he said.

Dele Oguntebi, managing director of Consolidated Management Ltd. Ikeja, Lagos, urged government to warehouse the recovered fund in a central revenue account for proper appropriation on projects that could improve the living standard of Nigerians.

According to him, it is important for the government to channel the recovered loots into people-oriented projects because of the intense hardship prevalent in the country.

“The fund recovered should go into central revenue account for proper appropriation. The funds should not be spent until it is appropriated.

The TSA is already creating hardship because funds appropriated were mopped up into central revenue account and they are there idle. That is why everywhere is so dry. The fund should be appropriated on specific and special projects that will make positive impact on Nigerians so as to avoid a repeat of the past, when funds were recovered and embezzled,” he said.

The Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Muda Yusuf, commended government’s efforts on anti corruption, but was quick to advise that information regarding the war against corruption be effectively managed so that it would not impact negatively on the country’s image.

Labour organisations also commended the government for the haul and urged it to intensify the efforts by going after all public officers already indicted, irrespective of their ethnic and religious colouration.

The Secretary General of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr. Simeso Amachree, however, advised government to warehouse the recovered loots in a special account, properly managed for the provision of social infrastructure like water, electricity transportation and education.

“We are happy that this kind of thing is happening in our country, and we expect the government to do more. They should go after all indicted persons irrespective of the religious, tribal and ethnic affiliation. Having recovered the money, we expect them to put it in a special account and manage it properly for the provision of social-economic infrastructure like electricity, water, education, and transportation. We like to see the establishment of a national carrier; we will like to see the refineries totally fixed with total turn around. There should also be emergence of new refineries, the PIB should be passed with all relevant provisions, we will like to have agriculture that is well supported so as to stop food import,” he said.

However, till this moment, government is still to release funds for the implementation of the capital projects contained in the N6.07 trillion fiscal plan, whose assent was given about a month ago.

Economic watchers are concerned that recession is threatening the country, following the near absence of fiscal spending since the assumption of office of the new administration and expressed shock that this was happening in the face of over N3tr Federal Government funds mopped up from the Nigerian banking system, which is equally quarantined at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under the Government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) fiscal policy.

Lately, this recovered loot has been warehoused at the apex bank instead of being disbursed to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for the implementation of the capital projects in the first and second quarters.

Now, the CBN relying on data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), reported on Tuesday that apart from inflation that has been on a continuous rise since the current administration came to power, growth has contracted. The first quarter of 2016 recorded a negative growth, which is the worst in many years, with another possible negative growth expected at the end of this quarter ending June, justifying the alarm that recession was imminent .

The CBN then advised the government on how to halt the rising inflationary trend: “The Committee observed that in an economy characterized by high import dependence, the shortage of foreign exchange provided some basis for price increases as currently being experienced. The Committee noted that the economy needed to aggressively earn and build up its stock of foreign reserves in order to avoid distortions when faced with severe shocks. The Committee further noted that the current inflation trend, being largely a product of structural rigidities and inadequate foreign exchange earnings would continue to be closely monitored, and in coordination with fiscal policy, with a view to addressing the underlying drivers of the upward price movements.”

Aligning with the CBN, the Abuja Chamber of Commerce Industry (ACCI) speaking through its President Mr. Tony Ejinkeonye expressed dissatisfaction that the economy underperformed in the first anniversary of a new helmsman and advised that a new economic roadmap should be charted to avoid any negative consequences, pointing out that the effect of the underperformance was already telling on its members.

Also speaking on measures to avert the continuous drift of the economy, an Economist and social commentator, Dr. Emmanuel Analiefo, called for the putting in place of a comprehensive Team comprising all relevant professionals to rescue the economy from collapsing.