FG Paid $700 Million On Debt Servicing, Edun Tells Senate

The Senate on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to intensify efforts in funding the capital components of the three national budgets running concurrently in the country.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Solomon Adeola gave the task when the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Wale Edun, and the Accountant-General of the Federation, Oluwatoyin Madein, appeared before the panel over the budgets’ performances.

Adeola lamented the poor funding of the capital components of the budgets and urged Edun to improve on it.

Adeola said, “It is the capital component of the budgets that will showcase this government largely in terms of performances.

“The capital components tend to showcase various projects that will be executed by this government and people can say the government is doing this, it’s doing that.

“That is why we are emphasising the performance of the 2024 capital component of the project.”

Adeola added that “the N1.84 billion achieved so far out of a N9 trillion capital expenditure component is nothing to write home about.

“I would want you to please look towards this direction. And I want you to do more engagement with the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the government.”

Adeola urged the Minister to engage more with the MDAs because most of them were not aware of the current arrangement regarding the funding of capital projects.

The Senate panel chairman also hinted at plans by the red chamber to organise a public hearing on the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited which stakeholders in the oil and gas sector would be invited including the Finance Minister.

Adeola nevertheless commended the Minister for achieving 100 per cent funding for the 2023 supplementary budgets.

He said, “We did the supplementary budget, which we have achieved 100% release, which is highly commendable.

“It will not be out of place for you to have a periodic report on the implementation level of these agencies so that at least you can be guided on why transiting to the new method of payment as you can be guided.

“As for the main 2023 budget, we are lagging by over 50 something per cent, I also strongly believe that we should work around the clock.”

The Finance Minister told the senators that the FG had made progress in its ongoing forensic investigation into the N30tn Ways and Means.

He also said that the take-off of the electric and Compressed Natural Gas vehicles has been held up by a spike in freight costs.

Edun pledged that his ministry would intensify efforts in monitoring the revenue-generating agencies, adding that the debt service is up to date.

Edun said, “The procurement of electric and CNG buses and conversion kits, more importantly, has been held up by a spike in the freight costs.

“It’s just the ingenuity of one of the young men that is in that business that when I’ve got a bulk carrier that has a lower freight cost. Otherwise, the trade cost per bus became daunting and it made people just hold up to see whether this procurement was profitable for them.”

On debt payments, he said, “We have paid $700m in debt services for 420 national development agencies and others”

Speaking on the Ways and Means, “We are also interrogating the N22.7tn that we met on the ground. We instituted a forensic audit to see the impact.

“We are also interrogating the revenues that are due to us from everybody because we need to. The view of the fact that ways and means are going down rather than up, so we are servicing all the debts.”

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