OSINBAJO: Nigeria’s external reserves now $35bn, highest in the last four years
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OSINBAJO: Nigeria’s external reserves now $35bn, highest in the last four years

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I didn't accuse Jonathan in person of corruption —Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says Nigeria’s external reserves now stands at $35billion, the highest in the past four years.

The Vice President made the revelation in Jos, Plateau State at the 2017 graduation ceremony of the Nigerian Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies on Saturday.

He stated that “For the first time in five years we saved $500million, and invested another $500million in the Sovereign Wealth Fund. Today our external reserves stands at $35billion the highest in the past four years.”

He also said that “with 60% less revenue, we started a series of bailouts for the States, to enable them pay salaries and pensions. With 60% less revenue, we were able to provide about N1.3trillion for capital expenditure, the largest amount for capital in our nation’s history.”

On the fight against corruption, Osinbajo said, “From the very beginning of our administration when Mr. President asked me to head the economic management team, he made it clear that in his view, the major reason for the slow development of our nation and the poverty of millions of our people, was corruption and mismanagement of public funds & resources. And that fighting corruption and mismanagement of public resources was as much an economic imperative, as it was a law and order issue. I agreed.

“We, from that point, put in place structures that would ensure prudent and transparent management of resources. In July 2015, the President ordered that all MDAs funds should be paid into the Treasury Single Account. This ended years of MDAs keeping secret bank accounts, in some cases putting public funds in fixed deposit for interest far below market rates. Banks would then lend money back to government by buying treasury bills at substantially higher interest. Today, government knows exactly how much we have, and we are saving significantly.

“Early in 2016, an Efficiency Unit was set up under the Federal Ministry of Finance to reduce wastage, plug leakages and foster greater fiscal transparency. The Efficiency Unit has enforced several deliberate cost-cutting measures including the removal or reduction of sitting allowances for civil servants in many cases, and saved over 1 billion a year, stopping the procurement of souvenirs, and printing for government programmes, we saved another N1billion.

Read also: Amidst calls for probe, FG releases fresh budget support loans to 35 states for salaries

“By reviewing travel expenditures, and negotiating procurement discounts, we saved N15billion. We have also removed or reduced meals and refreshments for meetings, and saved another N1billion annually.

“We stopped the siphoning of funds through ghost workers by insisting that all MDAs must be on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) across government, and also mandated the use of BVN. Over 461 Federal MDAs have been captured on the system thus far, with the objective being able to enroll all of them. We are now saving N25billion a month, from cleaning up the payroll in this way. The President has also ordered all Armed Forces personnel to be captured on IPPIS”.

According to him, these measures to block leakages and stealing of public resources mean a lot for economic performance, and will have a great impact.

He also argued, that “Nigeria is not poor because it has no resources, it is poor because a lot its resources are stolen or mismanaged. We can do a lot more with far less, if we don’t allow stealing”.

On infrastructural development projects, Osinbajo said “even if we invested our entire annual budget on infrastructure, it would not be enough to fill the gap. So as a government it was clear, that the greatest impact would come from the efforts of private capital, while we act as enabler and catalyst, creating an environment conducive for investors and businesses”.

 

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