The federal, state and local governments shared N559.101 billion from the Federation Account for December 2011, the Minister of State for Finance, Dr Yerima Ngama, has announced. Ngama made the announcement while briefing newsmen on Monday after the meeting of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) in Abuja.
He said the federal government approved the amount for the three tiers of government. The minister however said due to the late arrival of the figures FAAC was not able to compute the breakdown of the total revenue to be distributed to the tiers.
“But by Tuesday morning the breakdown of the figures would be distributed and made known to the public,’’ he said. Ngama said the strike called by the organised labour had affected the speed with which some of the information needed was to be gathered for FAAC. This is as regards especially the information on internally generated revenue and Value Added Tax (VAT),’’ he said. The minister pointed out that it was while the committee while still meeting that it received the confirmation of the total VAT collection for December.
“The figure of N57.1billion for this was received from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation as we were meeting,’’ he said. Ngama assured Nigerians that the funds would be credited to the accounts of the various beneficiaries as soon as possible after work fully resumes on Tuesday. He said the FAAC meeting needed to hold urgently after the strike as a result of President Goodluck Jonathan’s pronouncement on workers’ salaries.
President Jonathan had on Jan. 4 directed FAAC to meet on or before Jan. 15. He had said this was to ensure that workers’ January salaries were paid on or before Jan. 20. While speaking on the funds to be realised from the partial removal of fuel subsidy, Ngama said the federal government was hopeful of realising its objectives.
“We do hope this year will be a prosperous year and we are happy that we are all united in ensuring this. We are hopeful that the entire various programmes we have developed and which we have discussed with the commissioners will be implemented successfully, particularly the SURE programme. We have asked the state commissioners to go and draw their own programmes from the revised amount that will be made known to them on the subsidy savings in order to ensure that our people get the benefit of the deregulation that we are embarking upon,’’ he said.
The minister said the committee had already computed the savings from the subsidy removal, as well as what the savings would have been. “But due to Monday’s change in the price of fuel, which has now made it partial deregulation and not full deregulation, the committee has to do the computation again,’’ he said. Ngama however disclosed that the National Assembly would have to approve the allocation of the funds as a supplementary budget before the subsidy savings could be distributed shared.
He also disclosed that the Accountant-General of the Federation had effected the 25 per cent reduction in basic salaries of political office-holders in the executive arm of government.
President Jonathan had on January 7 announced the 25 per cent cut. The Minister of State for Finance then allayed fears on the country’s financial status. “The total foreign reserve of Nigeria is over N32 billion US dollars, and a country with a foreign reserve of this amount cannot be a poor country but a rich country,’’ he said. Ngama lamented that Nigeria has over 600 unfinished projects, saying Nigeria would have needed to borrow to actually finish some of the road projects in the country, such as the Abuja-Lokoja road. This particular project has been on for over five years, and in order to accelerate the development of the country we need to actually block out all inefficiencies’’ he said