The Federal Government has released a total of N460 billion out of the N9.12 trillion estimated in the 2018 national budget.
The amount is part the funds for the implementation of various projects contained in the budget.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udoma, made this known on Wednesday in a joint interview with the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, on the sidelines of the ongoing annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group in Bali, Indonesia.
He also said the President had sent a request to the National Assembly to support borrowing for the 2018 budget.
“The amount of capital releases as of today is N460 billion. We just need a resolution of the National Assembly on the Borrowing Plan then we can fund it (2018 budget) even more.
“The National Assembly has been on recess for more than two months, they didn’t do it before they left so now that they are back and they approve the borrowing plan, we will move quickly,” Udoma said.
Ripples Nigeria reports that the President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday wrote to the Senate seeking approval to raise the fifth Eurobonds, amounting to $2.78 billion as part of the capital funding for the budget.
Speaking on the Nigerian economy, Udoma expressed confidence that by the end of this year, Nigeria’s economy would grow at 2.1 percent.
“We expect that by the end of this year, we will be growing by 2.1 percent, things are going well in Nigeria, not as well as we want to be, we are working hard to improve things,” he said.
The minister’s position is in contrast with the growth forecast by international organisations like the World Bank and IMF, this is just as the two global bodies recently cut their growth forecasts for the nation’s economy in 2018 to 1.9 percent.
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that the nation’s economy contracted for the second consecutive time in the second quarter of 2018 to 1.5 percent from 1.95 recorded in the preceding quarter.
The budget minister affirmed that the Nigerian economy is in a stronger position when compared with its position in 2015, claiming that Nigeria’s ”foreign reserves are $44 billion.”
“We have a trading surplus whilst our imports are not increasing, we have been able to manage those imports. All the indices are positive,” the minister added.
On Nigeria’s shareholding in the African Export – Import (Afrexim) Bank, the Finance Minister said the Federal Government would increase Nigeria’s shareholding in the bank.
Ahmed said the plan to raise the nation’s shareholding became important as the nation stand the chance to benefit from it.
“Nigeria is a major shareholder in the bank. Part of what we have discussed is the possibility of increasing our shareholding and we discussed some of the projects and programmes that Afrexim Bank is supporting in Nigeria.
‘‘Afrexim Bank has a very large portfolio in Nigeria. About 40 percent of the bank’s portfolio is in Nigeria – support to the government but largely to the private sector.
“We have the need to increase our shareholding in the bank because there is a lot of value that we are getting from Afrexim Bank.
“We also discussed the setting up of a medical park in the FCT (Federal Capital Territory) which is a discussion that has been going on for quite a long time. There was also a discussion on the establishment of Quality Assurance Centres in Ogun State and other parts of the country.
“In addition, we discussed the setting up of Industrial Parks in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in three Centres- Lekki, Kano and one in Kaduna,” she said.
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