….FEC okays $2.995m for maritime security
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – THE Federal Executive Council, FEC, Wednesday, blamed the National Assembly for the delay in presentation of the 2019 Appropriation Bill.
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, while briefing, State House correspondents after the weekly FEC meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, said that the budget estimate was ready for presentation to the National Assembly.
The budget proposal for 2019 was approved by a special session of the FEC last Friday after it announced that it was awaiting the NASS to okay a date for the President to present the document to them.
The Minister said that the decision on the date for the presentation was purely in the hands of the lawmakers.
According to him, “As you already know, the budget is ready. We are liaising with the National Assembly because they are to give us a date. If they say today, we will go. The budget is ready.”
Udoma, who did not give details of the budget as approved, had urged the press and the public to be patient until the President unveils the document to the lawmakers.
He had last month announced that the federal government was considering a 2019 budget of N8.6 trillion, which is leaner than the N9.1 trillion approved by lawmakers for 2018, as a result of reduced government revenue projection for 2019.
He also said government was planning to cut down the level of borrowing from N1.6 trillion in 2018 to N1.5 trillion in 2019, while the deficit component would be reduced from N1.9 trillion in 2018 to N1.6 trillion.
On the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, the minister said he briefed the FEC that the economy was witnessing a steady recovery from the recession as seen from the report of the National Bureau of Statistics.
He said, “Today I reported to the FEC we have seen steady recovery from the recession period. The report indicates that the economy when measured by real GDP grew at 1.81 percent in the 3rd quarter 2018, compared to 1.5percent in the 2nd quarter of 2018.
“The FEC was particularly encouraged to note that economic growth continues to be driven by the non-oil sector which grew by 3.32percent in the 3rd quarter. This has been the strongest growth in non-oil GDP in 12 consecutive quarters since the fourth quarter of 2015.
“By economic activity, non-oil growth was driven by transportation, electricity, telecommunications, mining and so on. In addition, agriculture and manufacturing sectors also grew: agriculture by 1.91 percent manufacturing by 1.92 percent.
“These are stronger growths than in the 2nd quarter. These results show improvement in the economy and that our plans are working. It equally shows that we need to intensify our economy and keep faith with our reforms through continuous implementation of the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (ERGP) in order to continue to attract investments and set the economy on a more sustainable inclusive growth trajectory.
“The council is encouraged by this and believes we should be able to do even better in the 4th quarter.”
He admitted that investors were usually more cautious on the eve of elections in Nigeria but also assured that there was cause for alarm.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said that FEC approved $22.995 million contract for six companies to enhance security of the maritime sector especially for the protection of six sections of the nation’s waterways.
He clarified that the contracts were awarded to formal and industry-competent companies and not rehabilitated militants.
The Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed in his brief briefing said that President Buhari remained highly committed to peaceful polls in 2019.
This he said was evidenced in the signing of a peace accord among political parties at the International Conference Center, ICC, Abuja.